As you can imagine, or maybe this comes as a surprise, being on a boat in the middle of the ocean can bring up some personal issues.
I think it’s the continuous motion. Waves and wind knocking the boat from side to side, swirling emotions inside of you like flakes in a snow globe.
During long passages, with nothing else to do except stare at the horizon, I am left with too much time to wonder why after months or even years, these feelings are as fresh, and sometimes more intense, than the first moment they appeared.
I was on watch one day somewhere north of San Francisco. Bait fish bubbled to the surface. Seagulls soared high above. The ocean sparkled a sapphire shade of blue.
After some time of wobbling on the sea, an emotional snowflake fell on my nose.
I thought back to my teenage years and a fight I got into with my dad when I was sixteen. I can’t remember what the fight was about exactly, but I remember the look of anger on his face and the lingering pain seared me like a fire iron, heating up my insides.
Shortly after, another snowflake fell.
It was an interaction with a friend that happened months ago. Why would she say that and I why didn’t I defend myself at the time? I need to work on my confrontation skills, I thought, or grow a thicker skin.
Then, I wondered if I put enough sunscreen on my skin.
I don’t want melanoma as much as I don’t want “old lady chest” – a décolletage as crisp and lined as stale beef jerky.
So I ducked in the cabin, grabbed a tube of SPF, and began slathering it on my hands, neck, and chest.
Then one more snowflake plunked down, stacking on top of the last.
I need to see a doctor, no, a dentist! God, I hope my chipped molar doesn’t rot into a cavity then seep into my bloodstream and give me a heart attack.
I wonder how long that would take?
I hope I have some good years left.
What would I accomplish if I only had six months to live?
In a just few minutes, my thoughts avalanched into a mound of anxiety, burying me in.
I was at the beginning stages of emotional frostbite while floating on the sea on a bright and sunny day.
The human experience never ceases to amaze and confuse me.
It’s true, you can’t escape your Self no matter how beautiful the scenery, how magical the adventure, or how far away you move from your childhood home.
And I knew that going in. I actually wanted to face my Self.
It’s one of the reasons I desired the sailing life in the first place.
Perhaps I’m a masochist.
With quite literally no ground beneath my feet, as corny as it sounds, I can only ground myself with my heart.
Maybe I’ll accept these emotions rather than push them away.
Let the snowflakes fall on my warm, beating heart only to melt away into oblivion.
Give worry and anger a final resting place.
Forgive myself and others for being human.
Maybe it will work, maybe it won’t.
But as long as I’m breathing, I’ve got plenty of time to try and only one way to find out.