This Ship of Fools


Ship of Fools
By Reaction Mass
There’s a ship cruising through time and space
It’s a beautiful ship, such a magical place
Made of water and rock, filled with mountains and trees
So much diversity you’d never believe

Oceans full of the infinite blue
Frozen arctic tundra roamed by herds of caribou
Deserts full of the scorching heat
Tropical jungles teaming with parakeets

With all of this wonder and so much to give
You’d think this ship would be just the perfect place to live
But the thing, the thing about this ship
It’s a ship full of fools

We’re all together on this ship of fools
Don’t know where we’re going but we’ll get there soon
No one knows how, but we all try steer
No one knows why, so we’re driven by fear

And now we come to the people on this ship
You can’t avoid the people on this ship
We all want to find what makes us happy
But we don’t always know what really makes us happy

We live in a culture built on a belief
That doing stuff or buying things will make us complete
So we struggle and we strive to earn fat paychecks
To take exotic trips and buy the latest gadgets

But this relentless pursuit of material things
Just leaves us wanting more and feeling so incomplete
With this void in our hearts, we don’t know what to do
So we fumble all around like a ship full of fools

We’re all together on this ship of fools
Don’t know where we’re going but we’ll get there soon
No one knows how, but we all try steer
No one knows why, so we’re driven by fear

But the saddest mistake is when we come to believe
That someone else is causing all of our misery
The emptiness turns into hate and anger
Raging out at others causing pain and danger

We think we need to make others see
That our way is the right way and they all must agree
So we circle up the wagons, isolating us from them
Making accusations, spreading fear and mayhem

If we continue on this course we’ve set
We’re gonna crash this ship and get us all really wet
All of this fighting and all of the lies
Are just a distraction from the emptiness inside

We all have a part to play in changing our course
But the answer might turn out to be tough to enforce
The most important thing we need to fix is within
By remembering that there’s nothing wrong to begin

When we examine the emptiness to see what it is
It’s because we all forget our true nature is bliss
If we turn our attention to the love within
Maybe, just maybe we can right this ship

We’re all together on this ship of fools
Don’t know where we’re going but we’ll get there soon
No one knows how, but we all try steer
No one knows why, so we’re driven by fear

I feel compelled to expound upon this song a bit. I didn’t intend it as a harsh critique of society or judgement on people. I want to make it clear, I consider myself one of the fools as well. I’ll get into that more, but first, a little back-story.

The original inspiration for the title comes from an allegory in Plato’s Republic that has come to be known as the Ship of Fools. Interesting, this metaphor has been a recurring theme throughout the ages, with multiple references in literature, film, and music. There are at least 16 songs with this title on iTunes. All are different songs, not remakes of the same song. For more on this interesting topic, check out this article Ship of Fools, the Enduring Metaphor 

There are many different interpretations and extrapolations of Plato’s ideas. In my take, we are all a bit of a fool, all of us are influenced by unconscious drives of which we are barely aware. This is a recurring theme throughout eastern philosophies and modern cognitive science. There’s significant research that suggests we make decisions largely based on emotion and snap impulses, and then later create rational explanations. (Check out this article for a brief intoduction to this topic.)

My hope is that we all acknowledge this fact about ourselves, and try to spend time identifying these unconscious drives and understanding how our minds work. I think most of the problems in the world, from politics to business to our personal lives, result when we’re convinced we know what we’re doing and don’t stop to question why we act the way we do or believe what we believe. This song is a plea for us to spend more time examining ourselves, and less time trying to convince others we’re right.

Another theme in the song pulls more directly from eastern philosophies: the idea of the void, the feeling of isolation and emptiness created by the ego. Some people feel this void more acutely than others, and if you have no idea what I’m talking about, then good for you, I envy you. But some of us spend our lives searching for meaning and connection to fill this void. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with buying cool gadgets or traveling to exotic locations, but those things aren’t going to fill the void. They can be a lot of fun and provide great enjoyment and a pleasant distraction, but the void remains.

In my personal experience, I can only escape the void when I stop looking out in the world, and instead look inside. Meditation and mindfullness help me see through the illusion of the void to the love found within us all. So this song is also a plea for us to spend more time searching for the love that connects us all, and less time focusing on the differences that separate us.

Published by Matthew B

Scientist, Mystic, Photographer - bringing love, light, and beauty into the world, any way I can 😁

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