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Are you building your milk jug raft?

When I was 11 years old, I dreamed of building my own raft and floating down the Mississippi River like Huck Finn. My parents thought this idea was insane and told me it would lead to my immediate and untimely death, so I came up with an alternative plan. I would still make a raft but would settle for a more manageable and less life-threatening body of water.

Are You Building Your Milk Jug Raft? - Charles MarshallMy main obstacle was that I was dirt poor, but since that didn’t seem to slow Huck down, I didn’t see why it should be a problem for me. So I sketched out a simple plan for a rectangular raft with a 2×4 frame covered with plywood, and then began scouring my neighborhood for scrap lumber.

Coming up with wood for the frame was fairly easy, but finding one big sheet of plywood for the surface area proved practically impossible. So I moved on to Plan B, which was gathering about ten or twelve odd-sized smaller pieces of plywood and then cutting and piecing them together to make the surface of my raft. The finished product looked something like the paint job of the Partridge Family’s bus. If you don‘t know what that means, then a very important piece of your TV education is lacking.

The biggest challenge I had was making my raft float, which, if you think about it, is pretty dang important. My neighbor’s dad owned a ginormous chunk of Styrofoam that would have done the trick, but that man wasn’t giving up that treasure for anything. Car inner tubes would have been great, but those cost money, and I was doing this project on the cheap.

I was stuck on this problem for a couple months, but then the jug of milk at the breakfast table caught my eye. After a few experiments and sketchy calculations, I figured out that milk jugs were air tight, and enough of them would keep me and my raft afloat. After raiding my own trash can, I went door-to-door in my neighborhood begging for old milk jugs. A few weeks later, I had all the milk jugs I needed so I fastened them to the bottom of the raft with some old bicycle inner tube strips, and I was in business. I hauled/dragged/pushed the raft to a nearby pond and was thrilled to see that my raft floated quite nicely. I spent several wonderful afternoons floating around that pond, feeling like Huck Finn himself.The Partridge Family - Are You Building Your Milk Jug Raft? - Charles Marshall

Since March of this year, most of us have had to wait—wait for COVID-19 to die down, wait for businesses to open back up, wait to see relatives, wait for the economy to recover. We’ve all been waiting on things that are largely outside our control.

But what if instead of waiting for the world to be just right before we launch out into the deep, before we enact our plan, before we start our journey/business/education/ etc.—what if we did what we could right now?

In short, instead of waiting for your ship to come in someday, why not build a boat right now?

If your ship does come in—if COVID-19 goes away completely, your guy gets elected, the economy completely recovers—then good for you. You have a ship and a boat! But if none of those things happen, at least you have a milk jug raft.

And how far will a milk jug raft take you? Well, I believe that one trait—learning how to take action using whatever is available—has helped me to become one of the most in-demand humorous speakers in the country.

Where will yours take you?

© 2020 Charles Marshall. Charles Marshall is a nationally known humorous motivational speaker and author. Visit his Web site or contact him via e-mail at

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