It is true, it is merciless, literally; it’s not conscious, so it has no feelings, no remorse, no pity, no awareness. It would be wrong to say it is inanimate, because it is certainly animate. And not alive, yet contains so much life within it might as well be. Like a Frankenstein body filled with cells and bacteria and nerve impulses yet no consciousness.
My worst nightmare – I don’t have it very often but it’s a strong one – can take a variety of forms and happen in a variety of places: it’s being overwhelmed by a tsunami.
I sat watching one of the biggest waves in the world – at Teahupoo – with my friend, a psychologist. I asked her what a psychologist would say that fear of a tsunami meant. “I dunno. Probably something to do with your mother. Normally is, eh?”. But I can’t help thinking I’m also just simply scared of death by drowning.
Why then do I travel by freighter ship, why then do I want to sail across the ocean in a tiny sail boat? Funnily, the tsunami dream never occurs at sea. It’s always the shore that is inundated. With that wall of approaching death. But the sea still scares me. As well it should. It is the only sensible reaction to be cautious of such a beast. I keep on wishing to anthropomorphise it. Should I?
Cautious, yes… but scared? I’m trying to work out is my fear rational or irrational. Do I think the sea, the ocean, symbolises something, someone? Do I think something – like the tsunami – is coming to get me? Or someone? Or is it myself that’s haunting me?
Even here on the bridge, of a vast freighter ship, 150 feet above the calm dark waters of the Pacific, I worry. I am outside, I hear a horn. Was that ours, I ask? The watchmen say no maybe it was the radio. It wasn’t a radio. I check the radar – nothing. I skip outside again this time with binoculars. Give me a man with binoculars over your electronic instruments. Or is it just my lack of faith? Faith in what? In...