I mentioned before that I've been reading a book, "The Survivor's Club". I don't spend a lot of time reading, so it takes me awhile to finish a book. This book is really fascinating to me and I have really enjoyed reading it. The other day I read a story in it that made me wonder about my ability to survive. The author talked about how one of the most important things in an emergency situation is our ability to control our fears.
He told the story of a guy who decided to go with a buddy on a cruise to Mexico. They purposefully booked passage on a "party ship". One night they were drinking and having fun with people they met, but decided to split up. I think the other guy had met a girl or something. So this guy just kept partying and drinking. The rest gets a little fuzzy in his memory. The next thing he knew, he woke up in the middle of the ocean. Evidently, in his drunken state, he had fallen overboard. His roommate thought he had met someone and was spending the night in her cabin, so he didn't alert anyone when he didn't come back that night. This man had spent some time in the service, so had been trained in many survival situations. His first thought was that he just needed to hang on until morning. He never once let his fears get the best of him. He just swam and kept afloat all night. At one point he saw a group of jellyfish, and realized that could be dangerous for him, but he didn't allow himself to panic. In the morning he saw that there were no ships in sight. At one point a school of beautiful fish were jumping all around him and he felt so privileged to be able to witness it. He really kept his attitude in check, and just kept waiting for someone to rescue him. During that next day, he didn't just tread water in circles, but would swim in the direction of jet trails to give himself a feeling of following and accomplishing a goal.
But when night drew near, his hopes began to drop and he wondered if he could survive another night. He had been in the sun all day, and had no water to drink. He tried to drink seawater once but it made him sick. He began to lose hope, and felt this was how he was going to die. He felt sorry that his family would never know what happened to him. He allowed himself to sink down in to the depths of the water. But something deep inside him wanted to live and suddenly he found himself fighting to get back up to the surface. From then on, he was determined to live.
The next day he saw a tanker coming towards him. He started swimming as fast as he could toward it. It looked like it was going to turn the other direction, but then he saw a small boat coming toward him, and he was saved. I think he was like 50 miles from the cruise ship.
When I heard this story, I knew if it had happened to me I would have been a goner. I have a deep phobia of deep water, and I don't know if I could have kept my sanity swimming there for hours knowing that there was a vast expanse of water below me. Add to that my fear of creepy crawly things, and the knowledge that all kinds of creatures could come up and touch my leg! I think it would have been every easy to have a panic attack! Other situations I could have dealt with, like being marooned on a island. But being in the ocean would have sent me over the edge.
But maybe I'm wrong. Maybe my will to live, and my desire to live for my family would have taken over and forced me to control my fears. I hope I never have to find out.