It’s like a short rest stop on a bus trip. You can get some food, use the bathroom or play some video games. But you’d better watch the time, and keep an ear on the public-address system, so that you don’t miss your departure. And if you have to leave a bowl of soup or a game unfinished, that’s the way it is.
Same way with life. Instead of a bowl of soup or a video game, you may have a spouse or a career – and no reason not to. But when that whistle blows, it’s back on the bus, and you’ll have to leave them behind without a second thought. But if you’re old, stay right by the bus.
Just as on a voyage, when your ship has anchored, if you should go on shore to get fresh water, you may pick up a small shell-fish or little bulb on the way, but you have to keep your attention fixed on the ship, and turn about frequently for fear lest the captain should call; and if he calls, you must give up all these things, if you would escape being thrown on board all tied up like the sheep. So it is also in life: If there be given you, instead of a little bulb and a small shell-fish, a little wife and child, there will be no objection to that; only, if the Captain calls, give up all these things and run to the ship, without even turning around to look back. And if you are an old man, never even get very far away from the ship, for fear that when He calls you may be missing.
When you are on a voyage, and your ship is at anchorage, and you disembark to get fresh water, you may pick up a small shellfish or a truffle by the way, but you must keep your attention fixed on the ship, and keep looking towards it constantly, to see if the Helmsman calls you; and if he does, you have to leave everything, or be bundled on board with your legs tied like a sheep. So it is in life. If you have a dear wife or child given you, they are like the shellfish or the truffle, they are very well in their way. Only, if the Helmsman call, run back to your ship, leave all else, and do not look behind you. And if you are old, never go far from the ship, so that when you are called you may not fail to appear.
As on a voyage when the vessel has reached a port, if you go out to get water, it is an amusement by the way to pick up a shellfish or some bulb, but your thoughts ought to be directed to the ship, and you ought to be constantly watching if the captain should call, and then you must throw away all those things, that you may not be bound and pitched into the ship like sheep: so in life also, if there be given to you instead of a little bulb and a shell a wife and child, there will be nothing to prevent (you from taking them). But if the captain should call, run to the ship, and leave all those things without regard to them. But if you are old, do not even go far from the ship, lest when you are called you make default.
Even as in a sea-voyage, when the ship is brought to anchor, and you go out to fetch in water, you make a bye-work of gathering a few roots and shells upon the way, but have need ever to keep your mind fixed upon the ship, and constantly to look round lest at any time the master of the ship should call, and must, if he call, cast away all those things, lest you be treated like the sheep that are bound and thrown into the hold: So it is with human life also, and nothing hinders the comparison if there be given wife and children instead of shells and roots. And if the master call, run to the ship, forsaking all those things and looking not behind. And if you be in old age, go not far from the ship at any time, lest the master should call, and you should not be ready.
As in a voyage, when the ship is at anchor, if you go on shore to get water, you may amuse yourself with picking up a shell-fish or a truffle in your way, but your thoughts ought to be bent towards the ship, and perpetually attentive, lest the captain should call, and then you must leave all these things, that you may not have to be carried on board the vessel, bound like a sheep; thus likewise in life, if, instead of a truffle or shell-fish, such a thing as a wife or a child be granted you, there is no objection; but if the captain calls, run to the ship, leave all these things, and never look behind. But if you are old, never go far from the ship, lest you should be missing when called for.
Consider when, on a voyage, your ship is anchored; if you go on shore to get water you may along the way amuse yourself with picking up a shellish, or an onion. However, your thoughts and continual attention ought to be bent towards the ship, waiting for the captain to call on board; you must then immediately leave all these things, otherwise you will be thrown into the ship, bound neck and feet like a sheep. So it is with life. If, instead of an onion or a shellfish, you are given a wife or child, that is fine. But if the captain calls, you must run to the ship, leaving them, and regarding none of them. But if you are old, never go far from the ship: lest, when you are called, you should be unable to come in time.
Καθάπερ ἐν πλῷ τοῦ πλοίου καθορμισθέντος εἰ ἐξέλθοις ὑθρεύσασθαι, ὁδοῦ μὲν πάρεργον καὶ κοχλίδιον ἀναλέξῃ καὶ βολβάριον, τετάσθαι δὲ δεῖ τὴν διάνοιαν ἐπὶ τὸ πλοῖον καὶ συνεχῶς ἐπιστρέφεσθαι, μή ποτε ὁ κυβερνήτης καλέσῃ, κἂν καλέσῃ, πάντα ἐκεῖνα ἀφιέναι, ἵνα μὴ δεδεμένος ἐμβληθῇς ὡς τὰ πρόβατα: οὕτω καὶ ἐν τῷ βίῳ, ἐὰν διδῶται ἀντὶ βολβαρίου καὶ κοχλιδίου γυναικάριον καὶ παιδίον, οὐδὲν κωλύσει: ἐὰν δὲ ὁ κυβερνήτης καλέσῃ, τρέχε ἐπὶ τὸ πλοῖον ἀφεὶς ἐκεῖνα ἅπαντα μηδὲ ἐπιστρεφόμενος. ἐὰν δὲ γέρων ᾖς, μηδὲ ἀπαλλαγῇς ποτε τοῦ πλοίου μακράν, μή ποτε καλοῦντος ἐλλίπῃς.