Lessons Learned From a Typhoon: write better journals

Once again, I’ve decided to try a blog while I enter a new phase of life. The only way this will work is if I don’t worry about how well I’m writing, but simply write short notes on my observations and thoughts. So bear with me on bad writing and grammar, and consider these the scribbled notes from a journal.

With that said, however, I will try to make my musings better than my journals of the 70s, which read more like telegrams. A few years ago, as I was packing to move to Saudi Arabia, I found the box with all of my old journals, dating as far back as elementary school. The one that most interested me was from a trip I took to visit my brother and sister-in-law, Jon and Cher, in Micronesia in 1979. I decided to take a small inter-island freighter from Palau to Guam – the only girl, and the only “passenger” on the ship (other than crew). I was 21 years old.

On the first night out, we were heading straight into the path of a typhoon crossing between us and Guam. The captain turned slightly off to the east, hoping to miss a direct collision, but it caused the small empty freighter to rock precariously as massive ocean swells hit the ship on its side. Eventually, we turned into the waves, and if you’ve ever seen the movie “The Perfect Storm,” you will know what I saw from the bridge looking out into the darkness: troughs so deep it felt as if we were diving straight into the ocean, and walls of water so massive and steep that I was certain with each one that we would not make it to the top.

I was terrified. I knew I was going to die. I didn’t want to die. I pleaded with God that I was too young, that no one in my family knew where I was (not even Jon & Cher at that point), and it would cause such agony for them. After a short time of stomach-churning terror, I had an epiphany. The fear I felt would not change anything. I was still going to die. So I had a choice. I could continue to give in to the debilitating fear, or I could let it go, sit back, and enjoy the ride. And what a ride it was. Nothing man-made could compete with this. I watched in awe and wonder at the fury of nature, the magnitude and power of the Pacific Ocean in a typhoon, and felt that I was getting a glimpse of something incredible before my death. It was thrilling.

Since I didn’t die, it remains for me a powerful lesson on how my attitude can change everything, even in the worst of situations.

And so, when I found the journal with the story of the storm, I read it excitedly, anxious to read my exact thoughts at the time of the epiphany. I don’t have it here to quote exactly, but it went something like this:

“Got into a big typhoon. Very scary. Next day it was sunny. Laid out on the roof to sunbathe.”

All I can say is that I will try to elaborate a bit more this time around.

15 Comments

  1. Tami 21 May 2010 at 6:53 pm #

    Wow LuAnne, I never heard you tell that story. That is amazing. I am going to have to think about the power of that for a while and let it sink into my head. I look forward to reading whatever you write, whenever you have time to write it.

    Psalm 16:8 I have set the LORD always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

    Tami R. Class of 76 🙂

    • lcadd 21 May 2010 at 10:51 pm #

      Thanks Tami! I liked to tell that story to my students. It was a favorite.

  2. Miriam 21 May 2010 at 6:56 pm #

    Ok, now I’ve read it. Very good start to a blog! Can’t wait to hear more!

    • lcadd 21 May 2010 at 10:52 pm #

      Thanks. I think I might try to weave in old stories now and then, if it happens naturally.

  3. Cathy 21 May 2010 at 7:19 pm #

    What I have learned over the past few years is that you cant change the past and you cant know what the future brings. All we have is THIS moment, and this one and this one. So if we concentrate on the NOW moments of our lives and not dwell on what has happened or going to happen life is so much better. Living in the Present moment is what God wants for us.

  4. Jane England 21 May 2010 at 8:16 pm #

    what do you mean you can’t write? I loved this! I laughed out loud & it helps me understand you a little better you crazy woman. . …

    • lcadd 21 May 2010 at 10:53 pm #

      From one crazy to another, thank you, Jane.

  5. Cindy Aubrey 21 May 2010 at 9:07 pm #

    This was a great start. What a great story. Can’t wait for more.

  6. Brenda Lawson 21 May 2010 at 10:33 pm #

    Love it. Think I need to learn that lesson. Anxious for more!

  7. Paula Jean 22 May 2010 at 1:57 am #

    I’ve known you all my life, LuAnne, and yet I haven’t. Stories like this one make me wish I had paid better attention, had made more of an effort to really know YOU. It’s been good to connect a bit over the past year, albeit during rather sad times. Your spirit of adventure amazes me. Truly. Thanks for sharing. I don’t think I’ll ever get on a freighter, but I’ll follow along vicariously, if you don’t mind.

  8. lcadd 22 May 2010 at 6:52 am #

    Thanks everyone. Nice to know someone is reading this. Might inspire me to write again! There’s so many more details to that story that I didn’t write about. Like about the interesting experiences with some of the crew on the ship, all islanders. Like the First Mate deciding to “take care” of me to “protect” me from the rest of the crew. How the purser used his key to come into my room in the middle of the night to “talk stories”, which in island-speak means “have sex.” (I sleep in the nude, so this was not a good thing.) How my first indication of rough weather was waking to being thrown off my bunk and hitting the wall across the room from the severely rocking ship. How during the storm, the first mate kept shaking his head mournfully saying, “This is so bad, this is SO bad.” It was a great adventure.

  9. Cindy Aubrey 22 May 2010 at 4:10 pm #

    You know, that story had so much power, I’ve used it twice already in talking with people. We can experience all that life has to offer, and have joy in the midst of the turmoil. Such a great life lesson.

  10. Cindy Aubrey 22 May 2010 at 4:12 pm #

    I need to add that it takes making a CHOICE to have the joy! So much easier said than done in the middle of it all, but such a great reminder to pursue it!

  11. Lorraine Wilde Hall 22 May 2010 at 5:03 pm #

    Sheesh! I can see that this is going to be fun! Why, I can stop going to the library for my escapist fare and just wait breathlessly for your next installment! I’m planning on making a great cuppa tea and waiting for the perfect moment to read you, as if we were sitting out on the veranda, having a catch up session. Great idea Lu, letting us be mousies in the pocket of your life. Thanks honey!

  12. Terri (Hardeman) Turner 24 May 2010 at 5:20 am #

    What a gripping story and an important lesson, LuAnne! Your writing has GREATLY improved since you were 21! Keep it up!

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