By Poppy Cumming-Spain
It’s a pirate’s life for me
I’ve always been afraid of the water, especially the sea. It’s so vast that you can’t tell where it ends. And when you find yourself far out, it feels like your in the middle of a pot of oozing melted liquorice which is waiting for you to jump in. I’m aware that might sound inviting to some, but I’m a weak swimmer and a huge baby when it comes to the cold, so it’s not for me. Also, when it comes down to human vs. sea, the sea will always win. No doubt. We haven’t quite mastered how to tame it yet.
Despite the fact that I’ve had countless worry and accident-free experiences off land, any invitations that involve time on the sea tend to fill me with dread. Perhaps because I’ve had a couple of bad ones, or maybe because I don’t understand the sea. A few days ago Alex Mecklenburg gave us a hypothesis for human reactions to the unknown. As she sees it, we either worship or fear that which we can’t understand. I don’t think all of John agreed with her, but I saw a lot of that in myself. I’m not a worshipper. I find faith and extreme commitment to beliefs pretty bizarre, and potentially dangerous. But I do often feel fear. I fear the rise of tech’ because I’m not ‘techy’ and I worry I should be (I should work on that). And I fear the sea because I have no idea what’s going on beneath me when I’m out in a boat or swimming in it for that matter. I’m limited by my human senses and sight. I don’t understand sea creatures. We’ve got nothing in common. They don’t live like I do, or think like I do. So I fear them. As I write this it occurs to me that this same fear probably explains much of the religious, racial and cultural hatred we have in this world, but that’s a discussion for another time (or SCAB perhaps).
In any case, I spent a good few hours of today on a boat. In fact, I travelled from Portsmouth to the Isle of Wight on Nick’s motorboat last night. It was pretty exhilarating. That may have been the first time I forgot to feel any fear for the sea. And it was great. Getting off the land made me get out of my head. Hitting the waves knocked the thoughts and worries out (the gin pre-boat trip may have helped this). For the first time in a long time, I was just being. And today, the choppy sea rather handily knocked my hangover out of me. It also left me with hair like I was becoming the fifth member of Flock of Seagulls, but I can live with that.
Weirdly, as I write this, I still feel like I’m floating in the sea. I feel the gentle waves rocking us back and forth, back and forth, although I’m currently dry land and sat on a sofa in Nick’s house. Fun fact: apparently, this sensation is more common in women than men (the two women in the house right now seem to be the only sufferers).
All this time on the sea got me thinking about pirates. And, more specifically, about how I should channel my inner pirate. Coincidentally, I’m currently reading ‘Be More Pirate’ by Sam Conniff Allende which Meg bought and lent to me after Marc recommended it. Although I’ve only just started reading, Sam has already convinced me that we’ve all got a lot to learn from pirates. They weren’t what they seemed. And they knew how to use the sea to get what they wanted, and what they needed. I’m really enjoying reconnecting with my love for history. And I’m excited to learn more as I also discover a new love for the sea. It seems that the sea now floats my boat (pun intended). Maybe I will be more pirate.
Pirate Poppy does have a nice ring to it. Although, I think I’d rather Captain…