Skip to main content

The Master and the Ship in the Bottle

I am a long-time Futurist, and technologist. In my career, I have spanned the birth of personal computers, to the rise of Cloud Computing.


Each year the master would carefully pack the ship and carry it to his classroom...

That was a master for many years studied the shipment in the bottle. Not that he didn't understand how the ship got in the very clear bottle. Rather he studied the perfection of the craft, writing forever on the scene that never changes. Every year he would bring the bottle to his class, and he would show his students the ship he would show the students as should never change. The boat was always the same: no matter what the weather was outside, the ship was still perfect in its inside weather. And every year, the students would ask many questions.

The first question would always be how does the ship get to the bottom?

The master explained that there were many ways you could put a ship in a bottle in many different models that fit in the bottle in his particular case; at the very bottom of the glass bottle, you could see a line. That line showed where the bottom of the bottle had been cut, and then the ship inserted in the bottle heated so that the glass melted and reformed into its original shape leaving only a slight long. But he pointed out to the students that there were many other ways to get the ship in the bottle.

The students would ponder the answer to the first question and, fearing no reprisals asking questions, would ask more. Year after year, the questions are flowing in roughly the same order, student after student asking the same questions year after year after year. The master would field all the questions as he always did. It was his job to answer questions. But he waited and dream of a time when someone would ask the question that he was asking. The master was not wondering, is this art? The Artist's perception of the master new skill is a feeling. Art is something you connect with and see and feel the don't always understand. The master spent many hours staring at the monastery's beautiful paintings, wandering and finally returning to his body, sometimes changed and sometimes unchanged. Art was a story told by the Artist and heard by the person viewing. The master knew this and did not question art the application of art for the creation of old. He knew the ship, and the bottle was art. Perhaps mass-produced art but art.

Each year, the master, preparing the ship's lesson, carefully placed the ship in a box wrapped the flaw carefully so it would not shake for his classroom. Each year he would bring the ship to his class, and each year he would say nothing but take the ship in the bottle gently out of the box and lay it on the desk for all the students to see the questions came from them anyway. They did not need to have the questions coaxed or cajoled. The questions flowed freely from the students. Just not the one question the master wanted to hear. Perhaps it was simply that the master and he often thought this was not a good enough teacher to teach the lesson he was seeking. He would go to his master and expressed his concern, frustration, and sometimes the very inability to convey the shipment bottle's lesson. Often his own master would ask him what the lesson was?

The question the master sought was not, why put a ship in a bottle? Is it hard? How do you put shipping in the bottle? Can anyone please ship in the bottle? None of these was the question the master sought. Nor did the master seek the question, why do you care? What is it that you are looking for? The master wanted one person to ask the question of how the semen fit on the tiny ship?

All of the hours of deep thought, the hours of staring at art in the monastery, all of that leading the master to the simplest question of all, how did the timesavers fit on the ship in the bottle? Did they have parties on the boat? The master wandered that often what is it that they were doing on the tiny ship?

Scroll to Continue

Did the tiny crew have parties?

The master did not wish a student defining the serious question to ask? No, he sought someone that would see the comedy of envisioning a tiny crew on a tiny ship in a bottle landlocked forever. He wanted someone to laugh with him about the reality of that tiny ship in that tiny bottle on a shelf in a monastery in Tibet. So each year, the master would carefully wrap the bottles with the shift in cloth and place it in the box and carefully carry it across the stones of the monastery to his classroom, and he would take the ship out of the box and place it on the end of his desk. Each year the questions would burst forth from the students the same year after year the same questions. And the master would sit and answer all the questions, for that is what the master did. And so this year, the day of the shipping exercise had appeared. The master carefully circled the day on the calendar in his cubicle and every year carefully packing the ship brought it across the monastery yard to his classroom, carefully taking it out of the box and lying on the edge of the desk waiting for the questions I'm making as they always did the same problems year after year after year the same questions that he had answered for 20 years now.

The students ask their questions, wondered their deep thoughts, and considered the mysteries of the universe held within a bottle on the desk of a master that held the ship within it. There were many great ministries. What seed did that mighty ship now tiny think it was sailing?

Finally, as the master prepared to put the ship back in the box and carried it across the monastery to his cubicle where it sat, he noticed a student still in the room. He paused for a moment, and the student slowly walked over. Master, I'm sorry I was scared to ask my question. I thought people would make fun of me.

The master believing that this was a teachable moment, looked at the student. He said, placing his arm out in his hand upon the student's shoulder. There are only two kinds of those answered in those never asked.

What then the student asked of questions that cannot be answered?

Again seeing a teachable moment, the master said it is not the time for those questions to not be answered. Ask your question, the master said.

I am sorry the students that if this question strikes you as childish or too young. I realize that the ship has great meaning to you. I realize that you brought that ship to a classroom many times. My brother spoke of the boat many years ago. Since my brother told me all those years ago, I have had one question in my heart. Do the sailors in the tiny ship have parties?

The master began laughing. The student recoiled, fearing that he had transgressed the line or asked a question that could not be answered now and, therefore, should not be asked. Instead, the master pulled him close and hugged him. Laughing, the master said I had waited 20 years for that question to be ready. I have waited 20 years for someone to wonder what I have wondered for 20 years. I also wondered, do the sailors on the tiny ship in the bottle far from home have parties?

Some questions can be answered. Some questions are never asked. But sometimes the questions we wait for the answer of the ones that bring the greatest joy.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 DocAndersen

Related Articles