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.