Ian Shipclark: Tall Ships

One of the great things about having a website or blog is the ability to share what others have done, what they have achieved and what they have overcome. I have known Ian for over a decade. Right from day one, we connected at many different levels and he has become a very important friend in my life.

A while back, Ian told me he was working on his song Tall Ships which he had often spoken about over the years. Last week when he told me it was finished, I told him I really wanted to hear it and that I would be more than happy to post it here at Synaptic Studios. I asked him to include a narrative about the song when he sent it to me.  I really enjoyed Tall Ships .. but what I didn’t expect  was this wonderfully written piece that offers a glimpse into the heart of a very good man. The song link is at end of the article. Thank you Ian for sharing this with us!

Tall Ships – A true story of a song and of one soul’s journey home.
By Ian Shipclark

This song came out of a convergence of two events; a tall ships festival in Victoria’s inner harbour, and a mid-life crisis in Ian’s inner soul.

I was heading into the office very early on a Friday morning and decided to detour down to the harbour to get a look at the big sailing ships, minus the crowds and lineups.

My life was, on the surface, ‘on track’. I parked my Jaguar XJ in the lot and stepped my Gucci loafers out onto the tarmac. I was wearing a thousand dollar suit, and my IT consulting business was bringing me a fat six figure income every year. I was a ‘success’, and I was absolutely miserable.

It was just past dawn, still working on the morning’s first grande latte, and already my Blackberry was nagging me with the day’s commitments. I wanted to pitch it into the harbour except that I had paid five hundred dollars for it. Instead I threw it onto the seat of the Jag, automatically grabbed my date minder out of habit, and walked over to the ships.

They sat serene and majestic in the soft morning light, safely secured with hefty docking lines the evening before by their human caretakers. The smell of wood, canvas and rope filled the salty harbour air and evoked tales of adventure on the high seas.

Standing in front of a full rigged ship, I looked up at her masts reaching to the heavens. The broad yardarms with neatly furled sails, the white wind-engines that give her life, and the precise maze of rigging holding everything together. The crow’s-nests beckoned me up with the promise of an unobstructed view, not just to the distant horizon where sea and sky meet, but to the true path that my life was supposed to be on. A view to that place on the horizon where body, mind and spirit meet; in harmony and in balance. The two very things that my life was completely devoid of at that time. Staring up at the tall ships, something stirred deep in my soul, and in that moment my entire life changed.

I sat down on a harbour bench, opened up my date minder, and wrote this song in less than an hour. Though the lyrics speak of a life in crisis, it is in the end a song of redemption, and of hope. Of a man finding his bearings, and of a soul coming home to itself, rediscovering the true path it had wandered away from so many years before.

The Jaguar is long gone, as are the Gucci’s, as is the Blackberry. I still work, but now I wear Hawaiian shirts to work. Haven’t worn a suit since, and no longer own one. The executive haircut morphed over time into a pony tail that now stretches down the middle of my back. ( Editors note .. I am bringing my camera next time I see Ian so we can show you what he means!) My left ear sports pirate gold along with a diamond stud. I bought the boat I had dreamed about in my youth; and I now live on her. And I’ve never been happier.

That day on the docks, staring up at the tall ships, was the beginning of a multitude of changes in my life, too numerous to list here, and most deeply personal. Some were outward positive lifestyle changes, towards a simpler and far healthier existence. But the most profound changes, the really important ones, began deep on the inside, and slowly over time with the help of yoga and meditation have manifested themselves in a radically changed human being.

Do not fear embracing what others may label as your ‘mid-life crisis’. It may be just what the doctor ordered. It may turn out to be for you, as it was for me, the best thing that ever happened. Just listen to your heart. Get quiet, and really listen. You will know what is authentic truth, and what is just ‘noise’ – mostly from your head. As the saying goes, don’t believe everything you think. You just might re-discover yourself, who you really are without the masks and without the compulsive need to play the roles. And in the process find that the real you, the person you are completely comfortable with and at ease in being, was actually never very far away at all; it just seemed like it at the time.

My hope is that Tall Ships speaks to you in some small way that is meaningful in your life. If nothing else, may it be just a wistful little sea shanty that you can tap your foot to.

It is multi-tracked as I am playing all instruments except percussion, therefore deep-hearted thanks is due to my buddy Jeff for his endless patience and amazing skill in engineering and mixing it in his Sidney studio. And to my buddy Gil – a true renaissance man – for putting it up on his site, free for anyone who cares to listen to it. From the very beginning I always heard Valdy’s voice in my head singing this tune as kind of a ‘song of the Salish Sea’. Maybe he’ll give it a listen. Not important either way as it’s not mine any more; it has already served its purpose to me in blessing my life; it belongs to the cosmos now.


Ian Shipclark

Listen To – Tall Ships – By Ian Shipclark

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