This weekend, for want of something better to do I sat and watched surfing. I must have skipped past the channel in my quest for something entertaining that wasn’t reality t.v. Honestly, trying to watch television today is like wading through muck with flip-flops. I gave up and finally settled down to watch grown men tackle the one woman they could never really conquer.

I have a pathological fear of the sea. My dreams have been plagued with walls of water approaching, threatening life and limb. I once thought if I learned to swim then I could overcome this fear. Hah! Fat chance! I paid for the lessons but spent most of the class cowering and whimpering in a corner of the pool where I could easily cling to the bars and so keep myself from drowning….in my own fear. I justified my cowardice with the fact that I’m only 5′ 5″ and they put me in water that was five feet deep. Really? I loved the baby pool though. I can swim in three feet of water, start me off that way.

There’s something about water, well any element actually. It’s unconscionable and uncontrollable. There’s also something beguiling and comforting about water. She can be seductive and vindictive all at once. I find myself drawn to her beauty and repelled all at the same time. Recorded images of the 2004 and 2011 tsunamis still haunt me. I could never imagine how it must have felt as that wave came thundering towards them. I fly into a panic whenever I see fast flowing water. Then you see those surfers who frolic amongst walls of water that would give me a heart attack in installments.

This weekend I watched as the surfers tumbled and crashed into the waves. I’d like to know how many millilitres of adrenaline were being released into their bloodstream during that activity. And if that wasn’t enough, I went onto YouTube to hunt down more videos of waves.

You’ve got people who are drawn to fire, those who chase the wind, those who study the earth and then there are people like me who have come too close to being swallowed up and spat out by the sea. As a human being, there are many things in this life to be afraid of, but never have I felt fear such as this. For me there is nothing more terrifying than gasping and clawing for air as your own frantic heartbeats are magnified by the volume of water crashing over you. There’s nothing to grab on to except the very water that slips through your fingers. Salt water burns like hell when it is forced down your throat and nose.

It’s like a game that she plays with you. Each time you gain firm ground she creeps up behind you and pulls you back. If the sea could be painted as woman, I envision her laughing as she tosses the hapless human about, eyes sparkling at the joy of her own power.

People have asked me if I can swim and when I say that I can’t they look confused. “But you lived on an island.” They would say. “Yes, but I lived on land, not in the water.” I would retort.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the sea but only when there are no waves at all. Only when the water is as flat as a table, then and only then will I go near. I was a regular beach bug when I was a kid, water did not frighten me much then.

There’s a poem that I had written when I was younger . Again for want of something better to do, I wrote about an experience at the beach in the hope that I could push past it. But it looks like I haven’t.



Her Fury


I sat upon the shore one day

And looked across at her and

Wondered how it could be

That one with such calm and beauty

Could possess such fury.


I sat upon the shore that day

As I watched her foam and fret

Lashing and thrashing away

At the rocky sentinels

Which guarded her.


There was once a time when I skipped

Happily into her voluminous midst

Unaware of a treachery beneath

A beguiling surface.


She took a deep breath

Sucking me in like paper into

A vortex of rage

And then she let it out,

Wave upon wave of unbridled cruelty

Madness had come over her.


Her fury kept me down

And we struggled,

SHE, For supremacy,

I, For what was mine.


And then,

Clawing, crawling and gasping,

I coaxed the bruised

And battered shell of myself

Towards firmer ground

Praying that my retreat

Would signal defeat

and she would leave me be.


With one last act of


Her foamy fingers pushed me forward

And like driftwood

I floated towards shore.


As I gaze from upon the shore this day,

I wonder,

How one blessed with such beauty

Could be cursed with such fury.