Ships Do Not Sink Because of Water Around Them, Ships Sink Because of Water that Gets into Them

Ships Do Not Sink Because of Water Around Them, Ships Sink Because of Water that Gets into Them, The Ship as a Medium of Life

Hello Friends, today we will explore the essay topic name “Ships Do Not Sink Because of Water Around Them, Ships Sink Because of Water that Gets into Them” which had been asked in the UPSC Civil Services Main Examination 2020 (Section-A, Topic No. 3). Let’s start now.


The metaphor of a ship’s journey across the sea is a powerful one that resonates with the human experience. As Gautama Buddha wisely stated, “Your worst enemy cannot harm you as much as your own unguarded thoughts.” This profound insight lays the foundation for understanding how a ship’s voyage can teach us valuable lessons about life. Let us embark on this exploration.

The Ship as a Medium of Life

How Ships Function

Ships are complex structures, engineered with precision to travel across vast bodies of water. The success of a ship’s journey relies on both the harmony and integrity of its parts. The hull, the engine, the navigation – each plays an essential role. Similarly, the various aspects of our lives must be in balance for us to navigate life’s complex waters.

The Importance of Water

Water is both a vessel’s enabler and its potential downfall. It provides the medium for the ship to reach its destination but also holds the peril of sinking if allowed inside the vessel. This dichotomy reflects our relationship with the emotions and events that surround us. They shape us, drive us forward, but can also lead us astray if we let them seep into our core.

Life’s Ups and Downs

Embracing Both Good and Bad Experiences

Life is a multifaceted journey, filled with both joyous and challenging experiences. Just like a ship must sail through both calm and stormy seas, we must navigate through the highs and lows of existence. It’s easy to embrace the good times, the moments of calm, happiness, and success. But what about the bad times? Embracing them is equally vital. It’s in the stormy waters that we truly discover our strength, character, and capabilities. These experiences shape us, help us grow, and make the good times even more rewarding.

Learning from Struggles

Struggles and setbacks are often perceived as negative experiences to be avoided or escaped. However, if we approach them with an open and inquisitive mind, they can become powerful teachers. Struggles can teach us resilience, empathy, patience, and determination. They show us our weaknesses and provide us with an opportunity to strengthen them. A ship, battered by waves but continuing onward, serves as a metaphor for human perseverance. When we view our struggles as opportunities to learn, rather than mere obstacles to overcome, we begin to navigate life with greater wisdom and maturity.

Resilience and Persistence

In the face of challenges and obstacles, it’s resilience and persistence that keep us moving forward. A ship’s journey is not defined by the storms it faces but by how it navigates through them. Likewise, life’s adversities don’t define us; it’s our response to them that does. Resilience is the ability to bounce back, to regain your course after a setback. Persistence is the continuous effort, the unrelenting determination to reach your destination, no matter how many times you may be knocked off course. Together, these qualities form the keel and shell plating of our metaphorical ship, allowing us to sail through life’s ups and downs without sinking.

Case Study: Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam

Biography and Achievements

Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, also known as the “Missile Man of India,” was a scientist, politician, and the 11th President of India. Born into a humble background, his achievements in the fields of space and defence technology are unparalleled. But what made him a true inspiration was his attitude towards challenges, obstacles, and life itself.

Facing Poverty and Challenges

Poverty could have been a hindrance for a young Kalam, but he never allowed it to define him. Instead, he saw his early struggles as opportunities, working tirelessly towards his dreams. He once said, “Dream, dream, dream. Dreams transform into thoughts, and thoughts result in action.”

Lessons from His Life

Kalam’s story teaches us that success is not handed to us on a silver platter. It comes to those who are willing to embrace their struggles, persevere through adversity, and keep their eyes on the goal. His life is a testament to the idea that no wave is strong enough to sink a ship that’s well-built and steered with purpose.

Two Types of People

Comparing Those Who Seek Solutions and Those Who Dwell on Problems

Life often presents us with two paths: one of proactivity and another of reactivity. Some individuals focus on problems, constantly picking holes in situations and dwelling on the negative. Others see challenges as opportunities, actively seeking solutions and ways to grow. These two attitudes can define the course of our lives and our ability to navigate the turbulent waters of existence.

The Importance of Attitude and Perspective

Your attitude and perspective are like the compass and rudder of a ship. They steer you in the direction you choose. A positive mindset and constructive approach can lead to success, happiness, and fulfilment. Conversely, negativity and passivity can lead you to a stagnant or even regressive path. Like a skilled sailor, you must learn to guide your vessel wisely.

Opportunities and Disruptors

Facing Challenges as Opportunities

In the voyage of life, storms are inevitable. Challenges and difficulties will arise, but how you perceive them makes all the difference. By viewing challenges as opportunities for growth, you transform what could be a hindrance into a stepping stone toward your goals.

Dealing with Disruptions

Disruptions are like unexpected waves that can throw your ship off course. They might be people who try to hinder your progress, unexpected events, or self-doubt. Learning to handle these disruptions with grace, determination, and resilience is key to staying on course. It’s about knowing that the ship is designed to handle the waves, not be overcome by them.

Finding Strength in Adversity

The strongest ships are not those that have never faced a storm, but those that have weathered them and come out stronger. Similarly, adversity can shape and strengthen us. By embracing challenges, learning from them, and finding the strength to move forward, we become better navigators of life.


Our lives, much like the voyages of ships, are complex journeys filled with both calm and stormy waters. The wisdom in understanding that we do not sink because of the water around us, but because of the water that gets into us, teaches us to guard our thoughts and persevere through adversity. Like Dr. Kalam, we must see challenges not as hindrances but as opportunities. Let us be the sailors of our lives, steering with purpose and courage, knowing that we have the power to reach our destination.

“You can’t cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water.” – Rabindranath Tagore


Q: What does the metaphor of the ship mean in life?

A: It represents the journey of life and how our internal thoughts and reactions, not external circumstances, determine our success or failure.

Q: How can we prevent “water” (negative thoughts) from getting into our “ship”?

A: Through mindfulness practices, self-awareness, and embracing struggles as opportunities, we can control our thoughts and keep negativity at bay.

Q: Who are some examples of people who have navigated life successfully, like a well-built ship?

A: Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, Nelson Mandela, and many others who faced challenges with courage and resilience.

Q: How can we apply the lessons from this metaphor in our daily lives?

A: By viewing problems as opportunities, embracing failures as learning experiences, and practising control over our thoughts, we can navigate life’s waves successfully.

Q: What is the significance of Gautam Buddha’s quote in understanding this metaphor?

A: His quote emphasizes the importance of self-control and mindfulness in managing our thoughts, which is central to the metaphor of keeping water out of the ship.

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