Lessons From A Shrimp Boat Captain

I am twenty-three years old and every year it seems like I constantly reinvent myself. I was not this person five years ago. I was not the same person a few months ago. I feel like I am constantly breaking myself down.


I do not watch a lot of television, but one my favorite movies was playing earlier this week. I just had to sit down and watch the masterpiece that is Forrest Gump.

-Insert Spoilers Here-

He went from not being crippled to serving in the army, being a Ping-Pong champion, and eventually, a shrimping boat captain. Needless to say, this fictional character had an interesting life.

Even though I am ‘young’ by society’s standards, I often wonder if I am able to start over. Pick up and start somewhere else, somewhere fresh. Or even stay in my current location and just do something drastically different.

I feel like I am stuck in school for another year. I feel like I am wasting time. I feel very sedentary. Everyday is the same and everyday I am just marginally happy. I wish I could just start over.

“Sometimes I can hear my bones straining under the weight of all the live I’m not living” – Jonathan Foer

I don’t ever plan on being a shrimping boat captain, but sometimes I wonder if it is too late for me. Is it ever too late to start over?

Colonel Saunders was a firefighter and insurance salesmen before he started KFC when he was sixty-two. Samuel Mother-Effing Jackson was a militant in the Black Power movement before he got his big break in Pulp Fiction when he was forty-five. And, the exception, there is Walt Disney who founded Disney at twenty-two.


I am twenty-three and I haven’t done anything nearly as significant. But the Colonel Saunders, Samuel Jacksons, and Forrest Gumps of the world keep me going. I feel like there is still hope for me.

With the exception of Walt Disney, these people were well ‘over their hill’ when they started these mega-business and achieved success. It is never too late to drop something and start anew. In fact, it is necessary to break old routines and patterns, so you can achieve something great.

We often get wrapped up in age and personal troubles/past-thinking. The thoughts hinder us from reaching our full potential. It is a barrier designed to prevent you from achieving great things. The past prevents you from moving forward. I hold on to certain aspects of the past, which prevents me from progressing.


“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on” – Robert Frost

But for most people, starting over is a daunting thought. There is always the looming possibility of failure. This thought breeds and fear is produced. But, the fear is your body telling you, that a change is needed. Use the fear to push you. I don’t like the phrase ‘the sky’s the limit.’ That has been disproven.

I find it incredibly baffling when people decide to roll over and succumb to the pressures of the world. Try to look at those pressures as another wall to smash through. Coupled with your fears and pressures, the sky is truly not the limit.

I know I want to live my life like Forrest Gump and Colonel Saunders. I need to live an interesting life. Something inside me craves it. One day, I plan to write an autobiography and there has to be something half as interesting as a Shrimp Boat Captain.

You don’t have a purpose, you live with it

By Deezel86 on deviantart
By Deezel86 on deviantart

I have always struggled with the idea of purpose.

It makes me feel like I have to know exactly where I want to be in ten years, right now. I don’t know that. Even if I took a guess I could be completely wrong.

Are we supposed to plan this far ahead? Are we supposed to know exactly what we want our life to be like when we are out of high school?

I chose not to get a post secondary education because ever since I was young, a part of me knew that it wasn’t the path for me. I knew that I would not find my purpose in a classroom.

Fast forward, I am twenty-three, I have no idea what I am doing with my life.  I don’t know what my purpose is, it scares me. I want to walk up to strangers, grab them and yell “Are you as scared as I am? Sometimes I can’t sleep at night! Do you sleep at night?”

In the past I thought I knew my purpose.

When I was young I spent a lot of time in the hospital. The doctors were my heroes. I wanted to be like them when I grew up. After realizing that I hated school, I decided otherwise. I knew I wanted to help people, but that wasn’t the way I was going to accomplish it.

During my teenage years I wanted to be a world-famous musician. I spent hours upon hours teaching myself how to write music. I bought a drum set and started a band. It was hard. Getting five people to cooperate, or even get along, seemed a nearly impossible task.

At the break of my twenties I was working with my brother in a sales business he owned. It was an experience that taught me a lot, but it didn’t quite work out.

Now I’m just sitting here staring at this screen, anxious about the future.

I’ve been writing these blog posts lately, is this my purpose? Start a blog, write books, speak on tour, help people, die.
Does that sound fulfilling?

I’ve been down so many other paths that turned out to be dead ends. Who is to say that this isn’t a dead-end as well? What a depressing way to think.

When you look at your life with the intent of finding your one true “purpose”, you see all experiences that don’t contribute to it as a waste of time. They become meaningless.

I can’t live that way, these experiences have made me who I am. Through all of this stress, I have realized that I don’t want just one purpose.
It seems like a death sentence to me.

There are so many fallacies attached to the word “purpose” that everyone wants you to believe.

People are convinced at a young age that they have to decide what they want to be before the time they are done high school. They have so much stress put on them during a period where they finally have their first taste of freedom. I hadn’t even learned much about myself by this age, never mind plotting out my entire life course!

Colonel Sanders is responsible for a mega chain of fast food restaurants. Do you want to know what age he started said business at?
Sixty five.

That’s right. Before he was serving chicken he was a sixth-grade dropout, a farm hand, an army mule-tender, a locomotive fireman, a railroad worker, an aspiring lawyer, an insurance salesman, a ferryboat entrepreneur, a tire salesman, an amateur obstetrician, a political candidate, a gas station operator, and a motel operator.

Bill Wilson didn’t start Alcoholics Anonymous until he was forty. Alan Rickman, or Snape as you might know him, didn’t get his first acting role until he was forty-six. Stan lee didn’t have success writing comic books until he was forty-three.

Were these people just wandering aimlessly without a purpose until they became successful? Is their notable success the only thing that defines them?
I wouldn’t like to believe so.

Instead of looking for your one purpose, live each moment with purpose.

I didn’t become a doctor, but I still try to help people everyday. I’m not a world-famous musician, but I still express myself creatively.

Living with purpose allows you to do whatever matters to you right now, and if that changes in the future that’s okay. Do something different. You’ll grow and continue to feel fulfilled.

When you are living like this you need to have faith and realize that, though you may stumble, you will always be moving in the right direction.

Love your spouse with purpose, let them know you love them. Take them on dates, plan whole days you want to spend with them. Play with your kids with purpose. Try putting on a home puppet show, do something creative. Do the same at work, write thank you notes to employees who give that extra effort.

Every time someone asks me for advice, I try to put my soul into my answer. For that moment, helping that person is my purpose.

Purpose shouldn’t be something you search for out in the great beyond. It should be the lens which you see life through.

I wrote this because I didn’t want to stare at this screen feeling anxious anymore.

Maybe I won’t be writing forever, maybe I’ll move on to something different. I’m okay with that.

But if I am going to do something, I’m going to put my soul into it.
I’m going to do it with purpose.