Lessons learned from THE LAST SHIP

By Raj Goel, CISSP

Recently, I watched a lovely musical on Broadway Called “The Last Ship” starring Sting. I watched it twice in the same week, just before it closed, and have listened to the cast recording over 100 times since.

I listen to a lot of music and it’s rare for me to listen to the same thing over and over again. Last time I got hooked this deeply was when The Matrix came out in 1999.

What makes the ship different is that Sting created a wonderful coming-of-middle-age story that we can relate to. As a teenager, I grew up on “The Breakfast Club”, “Sixteen Candles” and other films that captured the angst and drama of being a teenager in Ronald Reagan’s America.

The last ship deals with us, not as teenagers, but as the 40 somethings that we become.

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We no longer worry about the prom date, now we deal with our kids becoming teenagers, our parents are falling ill or passing away; and we get to deal with who we become and the promise that we represented in our youth. Four events in the play really hit close to home:

  • When our protagonist, a teenage Gideon, tells his father that he’ll never be anything like him. And you fast-forward a few scenes later, and Gideon’s son Tom tells Gideon that, he will never be anything like him. I said the same to my father as an angry teenager and as I get older, I’m becoming more like my father and his father before him.

I recommend you listen to All This Time, Island Of Souls and GHOST STORY

  • The second thing that hit home is the nature and value of relationships. The failed relationships that Gideon has with his father, his son and his ex-girlfriend. And the amazing, under respected relationship that Peggy White has with her husband Jack (played by Sting). Listen to Sail Away a lovely song about the promises a husband & wife made to each other. The reality of living in a dying shipbuilding town, the sorrow, the depression, the unemployment – and the bedrock that Peggy is for Jack and the town. The interplay between Jack & Peggy is awesome.

Jack: I didn’t know you worried so, Peggy.
Peggy: You didn’t know? I’m only jibber-jabbering most of the day. Everyday.

Jack: Well, you do go on. But I tend to tune you out.

Read that again, and tell me you don’t have the same relationship with your spouse or SO?

The reason this hit home, is because my wife is my bedrock. She gives me the freedom to be me, to focus on the career and our clients while she tends to the hearth, the kids and when my thoughts take a darker turn, she pulls me back from the edge of the abyss.

  • A key theme in the play is that sons don’t always walk in their father’s boots. Sometimes, they have to chart a path all their own. I did that to my father and my daughters will do the same to me. A line that resonates across multiple songs, throughout the play is “life is a dance, romance where you take your chances. Don’t be left on the shore of regretful glances”. That’s a lesson I’ll be sure to share with my kids for a very long time.

For your sci-fi nerds, this is in line with what Master Yoda said “Do or Do Not. There is no try”.

  • What’s next? It’s where we go from here. And I’ve got to say, “Show Some Respect” is my favorite song in the entire play. When the priest passes away, the hold a wake for him and it turns into a sad, maudlin affair. That’s not who the Father was. He was a man of good humor, joy and warmth. And ultimately they celebrate his life and his passing with the wonderful tribute in “Show Some Respect”. Someday, when I pass away, I hope my friends, family and kids do away with the crying and wailing and throw a rip-roaring party that celebrates life- mine, their’s and lives to come.

Next Steps:

  • Thank your parents
  • Kiss your spouse
  • Hug your kids

If you saw the play, I’d love to hear your thoughts. And if you didn’t, then I hope you during a revival somewhere down the road!

To celebrate this amazing play, I’m giving away five copies of the soundtrack.

Send me an e-mail with your contact info and my minions at Amazon will hand deliver the CD to you.

Cheers, be well and stay safe.