This is a short essay I wrote about my first, and only, attempt at sailing.
Facing Down the Giant
I saw The Perfect Storm. I know what happens to students on a sailboat. I don’t know why I ever even watched that movie considering my enormous fear of sailboats, but I do know why I tried getting onto a sailboat full of students. I am a student and it was required. If you want an “A” in a course, you have to fulfill all of the requirements. The professor told us about this one on the first day of class. He suggested that if it was a problem for us, then we should drop the class. This was not an option for me because of the source of my funding, so like or not I was in this and I had to face it.
Fear is not a word many of those who know me often associate with me, unless of course we are talking about cockroaches and then I am a screaming ball of pansy. That is well known and well laughed at, but a sailboat? C’mon, not April! She’s does all kinds of water sports, hikes, goes hunting for wild hogs – a total tomboy. Why should she be afraid of a boat? Well, she is and I absolutely hate it. I love the idea of coursing through the ocean with the wind in my hair, but more than that, I abhor the idea of anything having control of me. I would face this.
The morning of the sail, I attached my motion sickness patch to a hairless piece of skin behind my ear just like the directions told me. I checked over my list of things to bring and made sure I had everything the boat captain had listed. One last thing to do before I left the house. Nope, not pray. I had been doing that for days. I playfully changed my Facebook status to “April is busy facing down a giant” and then I left to face my Goliath – the mighty sailboat.
My eyes widened when I walked up to the boat. Goliath didn’t look so big when I saw him. This was supposed to sleep seven? Really? Seven really close friends maybe, but not seven strangers. Trying not to think about it, I sucked in my breath, swallowed my fear and climbed aboard. At first it was great, actually. The captain let me steer the boat out of the harbor. We were using the engine just then and it felt a lot like being on my grandfather’s bass boat on the lake. Ah, but this was not a bass boat. This was a sailboat and a sailboat’s gotta sail. The captain asked me to hold the boat steady while he raised the sails. With a mighty wap WAP the sails filled with the wind, the engine was cut and everything changed. We were no longer cutting through the waves, we were riding them. Up and down, up and down. Sideways. Did I mention we were riding them sideways? Apparently, that is the natural motion of a sailboat. It felt anything but natural to me. I gave up control of the wheel and swallowed more of my fear.
Funny thing about fear. You can only swallow so much of it and, it seems, I had swallowed more than my fair share that morning. I felt it churning in my stomach, rising in my throat and soon my technicolor fear was poured out into the ocean, on the side of the boat, on a couple of lifejackets. On my foot. I was no longer in control of the boat or myself. I felt my insides begin to tremble and push outward into a full body, visible shake. After a brief conversation with the captain, he graciously agreed to bring me ashore. I couldn’t do it. Goliath had won.
As we made our way back to shore, I kept scanning the horizon for signs that we were getting near the end of this terrible journey; “glimpses that would make me less forlorn.” It was a forty minute ride back, giving me plenty of time to alternate between puking, shaking, watching and thinking. I thought about David and Goliath; how a tiny little boy could stare down his giant, and yet, I couldn’t face mine. I felt so dejected. But, then I began to think of David’s brothers. He had seven brothers come before that giant. Seven. Not one of them was able to defeat him. Why David and why not them? The only logical conclusion I could come to is that they were not meant to. It wasn’t their giant to defeat. This is where I am. I love the idea of sailing across the ocean, but I am not meant for the reality of it. I looked that giant in the eye and walked away. This was not my giant to defeat.