Words

IMG 9816My first job on a “crew” wasn’t on a film set. It was on a tall ship. Literally. A big ass boat! The summer before grad school, I lived aboard the U.S. Brig Niagara. It was a strange & lovely home...

I slept on the deck, staring up at the stars, using my dirty sneakers as my pillow. I tarred rigging, climbed aloft to furl sales & swabbed the deck. (Yup, that's really a thing.) I worked until my hands were numb & my back ached & my sunburnt skin blistered. I stood watch during the witching hour, staring out at a black horizon, imaginary lights dancing in the distance. To shower, I jumped overboard into the cold lake. I wore the same clothes for a month straight. I was part of a team. I was a real "shipmate." At first, not necessarily a "good" one.

That summer, among many things, I learned what it means to be a “good shipmate.” It’s one of the highest compliments you can receive. It means you stop & think about others. It means you take care of your neighbors. It means you don’t stop working until ALL the work is done – including those jobs that weren’t necessarily yours in the first place. You pick up slack with a smile.

Being a "good shipmate" means you cook for others & clean up after others & then you give thanks when others do the same for you. It means someone else’s mess is your mess & someone else’s success is also yours to share. You work hard & you play hard & you take orders. With a smile. Not 'cause you enjoy being told what to do (who does?), but because you trust orderly, efficient sail-handling is critical to get from Point A to Point B. When the boat travels too quickly or slowly, you accept that you’re all in it together.

Whether I'm on a boat or land or a film set or in a theatre, I believe being a "good shipmate" is important. Sometimes I fail. In fact, a lot of times I fail. Like daily. I fail even hourly. No worries. "Good shipmates" always let you try again. & again.

We’re all headed in the same direction, so let's please work together. If anything, it'll be more festive!

To the "bad shipmates" travelling 'round these parts, I encourage a long walk off a short PLANK. You'll find the cold water suitably invigorating. ;)