My memory isn’t the greatest. Ask me what I had for lunch yesterday and I’ll probably wrinkle my forehead, twitch my nose, and then proclaim in a loud voice, “Leftovers!”
But I’ve recently discovered a trait I didn’t know I had. My body remembers things my mind has forgotten.
We just finished a five day cruise to Rio Vista, an old town on the Sacramento River. It was a regional gathering of Nordic Tugs (and their owners) filled with drinking, dining, story swapping, presentations, round-table discussions, even a movie night.
After a calm cruise up river, the wind started huffing and puffing like it was trying to blow something down and it didn’t relent the entire time we were there. No problem. We were tucked in tight amid other little tugs like us. On the fifth day the wind was calmer, but still blowing. making our three-hour ride back to our marina lumpy.
When we attended this same event two years ago, I was a quivering mess. Wind blowing the water into frothy waves made me hang on to Sea Bear like it was the last life boat for the Titanic. By the time we got to our destination my neck and shoulders were sore from tension.
Because I was afraid.
This time, after four months in the Pacific Northwest and eight months doing America’s Great Loop, I looked at the weather, saw the whitecaps, shook my head and thought “not too bad.” Not once did my knuckles go white, or my breath catch. We bounced along Suisun Bay while spray covered the windows and I joked about not seeing any seals sunning on the buoys. When I was left on the bridge alone a couple of times while Capt. Mark coiled lines or silenced an annoying rattle, I didn’t whimper or panic. There was no scream in my head saying, “Get back here.”
My mind was perfectly happy, knowing this little boat of ours would deliver us safely to our port. And yet when we arrived, my shoulders were tight and my arms were sore just like I’d been vibrating with tension the whole time.
My “aha” moment was that I am no longer afraid in normal sea conditions, but my body remembers when I was. I will still quiver out in a storm or gulp chocolate if we get caught in a small craft advisory. But if my brain knows I am not in danger, the body will eventually follow.
It must have something to do with ancient conditioning, fight or flight or one of those other responses. And it doesn’t always work.
I’m still afraid of spiders.