Fear and More Fear (October 8, 2014)

The other night, Matt and I were talking about the passage he will be taking (Newport to Bermuda). He said that he dreamed about doing this 16 years ago when he was taking sailing lessons. He admits to some fear about it – particularly after having read about some people who perished a few years ago in the rally he is joining. The idea of going on this passage is making him anxious. It doesn’t help to see all of these hurricanes heading toward Bermuda (the most recent had 150 mph winds and 45-foot waves – I’m incapable of even imagining what that would feel like). “Look,” I say. “When I was heading out in the boat for the shark dive I started freaking out a bit but then realized I didn’t have to do it. You can always pay the captain and just fly down with me and the boys.” That seemed to do it. When put that starkly, you sometimes realize you’d rather just face your fear rather than face the fact that you chose not to face it. “Look at this as your shark dive,” I add.

Later, during dinner, Matt and I talk about how the hired captain is stopping by tomorrow to see the boat. The boys have heard some of this plan but they rarely pay full attention to things that are not affecting their immediate world. We review how Matt will be sailing the boat down to Bermuda and then to the BVIs with the hired captain and two volunteer crew. Matt tells the boys that he has some fear about the trip. They listen but are not abnormally concerned because we’ve never played the role of all-knowing, have-it-all-together parents. “Dad will be fine,” I reassure the boys. “Nothing is going to go fatally wrong,” I tell them. “Do you have a sense about that?” Matt asks me. “Yes,” I say. He looks relieved. A few seconds later I smile and add, “But just in case, I upped your life insurance.” He gives me a look. “What?” I say as I shrug innocently, “I’m just helping you face your fear.”