Bad Art I Am Compelled To Share

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Stupidity + Luck = Courage

Courage vs Stupidity was drawn on three small scraps of paper that I taped together, I cleaned up and colored the image with Photoshop.

A few days ago I was asked, "What's the bravest thing you've ever done?"

This is the story that came to mind...

Some years back I had the opportunity to go snorkeling around Johnston Atoll, it's a cute little place, a mile long and three quarters of a mile wide, located five hundred and fifty miles south, southwest of Hawaii. A chance like that doesn't come along everyday, so of course I said yes.

A few things you should know. First, Johnston Atoll, I'm told, is one of the most shark infested areas in the world. Second, I am freaked out by sharks. When I was in the fourth grade I loved the ocean, I was fascinated by it. I wanted to be an oceanographer. Then I saw "Jaws" and it ruined everything for me. I have been scared of the open sea ever since. To top everything off, I had never been snorkeling before.

There was five of us going on the swim, four amateurs and our guide, Sergeant Ben Lawson. Before going out we all had to watch a video about the dangers of sea life, why you shouldn't taunt the animals and why splashing around was a bad idea. We also had to pass a swim test. The swim test consisted of throwing your mask and fins off a dock and into the water, jumping in, putting them on and then swimming out to a buoy and back.

We took the test one at a time. I was the third one to go. I didn't have any problems getting the mask and fins on and at the time I was a pretty good swimmer, so with fins swimming a hundred yards out and back seemed like it would be a breeze.

The water here was incredibly clear as soon as I put the mask on I could see almost all the way out to the buoy. After I got about thirty yards off the dock I noticed something big and gray out past the buoy swimming towards me.

My first thought was, Oh, it's just another snorkeler. My next thought was that thing is too deep to be a snorkeler and we've been the only ones out here for the last hour. Then I thought, well this is it the moment of my death. A shark is going to eat me.

I considered turning around but according to the video sharks are really only dangerous at night, when they feed, or if you're making a big commotion, or if you're bleeding, or if there's a bunch of them in one place.

This thing was near the bottom now swimming closer and closer. I knew this shark would smell the fear flooding off me and attack. I considered turning around again but the fear of embarrassing myself kept me swimming toward the buoy. In that moment I figured it was better to take the chance of being killed by a shark than to face the humiliation of being called a pussy. The fear of humiliation made me face my own fear. Is that courage?

I was about fifty yards out when I realized the big gray thing coming toward me was two people scuba diving, one behind the other in gray wet suits. I waved as they swam passed and they waved back. They I finished my swim test.

I went on the snorkeling adventure. It was amazing and terrifing and one of the most wonderful things I've ever gotten to do.

If that had turned out to really be a shark I don't know what I would have done. I probably would have panicked and splashed away like a fool, but for one moment I made the choice to face my fear. That fear turned out to be something that couldn't hurt me. Maybe that's the way it is with all our fears or maybe it was just dumb luck.

What do you think? Was it courage or stupidity? Do you think you will leave some love?


  • I am on pins and needles!!

    Spell check? We dont need no stinking spell check!!!!


    By Blogger scarecrow, at 17:06  

  • Waiting with bated!

    By Blogger TravelingMermaid, at 19:13  

  • do tell shark boy...waiting patiently...XXXOOO

    By Blogger Lee, at 19:44  

  • I'll be back. Waiting on the edge of my seat for this ending!

    By Blogger Lou, at 20:34  

  • ....still

    By Blogger Janet, at 21:41  

  • Men I've known, who were in combat, have told me that they were less afraid of dying than they were of being seen as a coward by their squad.

    I think as social beings, we're often more motivated by fear of social sanctions than by a fear of death. It's in our genes.

    In fact, I think it could be argued that our standing in a community...whether that community is a circle of co-workers, friends, or the whole fucking country...has just as much, if not more, bearing on our survival, as any fight/flight mechanism.


    By Anonymous catnapping, at 01:12  

  • Give me the pussy anyday!

    By Anonymous Detlef, at 01:43  

  • scarecrow: Hope it's worth the wait.

    travelingmermaid; "Baited breath" Is that like chumming?

    lee: Shark boy? Heh, heh. Enjoy.

    lou: Enjoy! I hope anyway.

    janet: I finished as fast as I could. :-)

    FYI: In case some of you are wondering about the first five comments.
    They make sense when you know that I originally posted just the first half of this story. I had some things to take care of and had to get off-line for a few hours.
    So, I left everyone hanging.
    I hope it was worth the wait.

    catnapping: Interesting. I think you are on to something.

    detlef: Ha! :-)

    By Blogger The Unknown, at 02:01  

  • I think that is totally courage. Being afraid and doing it anyway, for what ever the reason, is courage.
    Keep in mind, though, that courage isn't always a good thing. If that was a shark you could've been eaten. Or at the very least, snacked upon vigorously.
    (Sorry, I've been into nagging lately.)

    By Blogger Rayne, at 04:41  

  • I'm back as promised and the story was great.

    I admire that you faced your fear. Although, turning around would not have made you any less of a person in my eyes. I know many people who would never even get in a boat if they had a fear of sharks or water or anything. I think you made an interesting observation in that your fear of sharks made you think that what you saw (other divers) was something else (a big grey shark). The mind is a very complex thing and when you combine it with your imagination and fears it can be a scary thing.

    Glad you survived the adventure to tell us about it. Now, are you still afraid of sharks or has that been completed conquered?

    By Blogger Lou, at 04:58  

  • Ya buys your ticket!
    Ya takes your chance!

    If someone cuts the line at the shark lunch ride, I dont say nothing.

    You could have very well been, "WAIT FOR IT" The Unknown!

    Good story!


    By Blogger scarecrow, at 05:29  

  • ooo definately a heady mixture of both courage and stupidity! yay ;)

    By Blogger Fluff, at 06:06  

  • Eee ... I think you be very very brave :)

    I cant remember much about bravery, but there was a memorable time when I had to walk alone in the jungle at night with no flashlight as part of our character building camp

    It was really dark and sometimes it came to a point where I had to stretch my arm out to feel what was in front of me.I can only hear the jungle creatures, there were absolutely no one around, no trace of light. And I started imagining things.

    Whats that white thing?

    OMG, whats that sound?

    It was really easy to freak out. But at the end of it, I was really empowered! Till the next camp I went to, it became, second nature even ;)

    By Blogger marina, at 09:06  

  • I think your story is sexy/crazy/cool......
    And my breath is as sweet as the rest of me! (smile)

    Mega-love for sharing

    By Blogger TravelingMermaid, at 17:37  

  • robin: Choose your courage wisely.
    I wonder what my mother would say? I bet she would think I was being an idiot.
    Stop nagging me! ;-)

    lou: Thanks for coming back.
    I am still terrified of sharks but I don't mind being on small boats in big water anymore.

    scarecrow: Ha! I think I just kind of resigned myself to the fact that this was how I was meant to die.
    I guess I was wrong.

    fluff: Hmm... 80% stupidity, 15% dumb-luck, 5%courage. :-)

    marina: Ha! Thanks.
    Wow! That's awesome. I remember the first time I had to spend a night in the woods alone. Freaked me out! Now I don't mind so much.
    A jungle though? I dunno? Scarey.

    travelingmermaid: Thanks and Ha! :-)

    By Blogger The Unknown, at 20:26  

  • ...fear of pussy-dom drives you to maneatingshark-world. um, of course a little "stupid"---but funny. and human. glad you lived to tell, & had a great adventure.

    thanks for sharing, LOVE :)

    By Blogger crosshatched, at 12:18  

  • Courageous!
    And damn that movie Jaws...swimmng has never been the same!


    By Blogger Joy Eliz, at 04:11  

  • Hmm... I think you would have been braver if you had faced the fear of humiliation - I mean that is so much worse than being eaten by a shark isn't it....


    to you and all pretend sharks too

    By Blogger Caroline, at 09:18  

  • crosshatched: Heh, heh. I like the way you put it. :-)

    joy eliz: Funny how many people it (Jaws) affected.

    caroline: Hmm... As usual I think you hit the nail on the head here. That would have been the really brave thing to do.

    By Blogger The Unknown, at 12:54  

  • Love your story; love to know you survived to tell this story. Much love.

    By Blogger albina, at 13:25  

  • albina: Heh, heh. I not shark bait yet!
    Thanks. :-)

    By Blogger The Unknown, at 14:53  

  • I say courage...definitely! I have to say I was hoping to hear a story about you punching a shark in the nose!

    Hey, what happened to the rescue party? We seem to have lost everything when Hellcat blew up. Where are my waffles? I’m famished!

    By Blogger Andrea, at 15:06  

  • big a: Maybe I will punch a shark next time. :-)
    I know I need to do a rescue party picture pretty quick. I have some ideas I just haven't spent anytime drawing them yet.

    By Blogger The Unknown, at 00:36  

  • Lol - I am so down with this. Jaws ruined it for me as well - I was even terrified of pools when I was little. I thought sharks could come out of the vents. I think you were definitely courageous!

    By Blogger tiffinix, at 17:43  

  • tiffinix: Yeah, I learned to water-ski a few years after Jaws, and even lakes, where I knew there would be no sharks, scared me.

    By Blogger The Unknown, at 00:23  

  • this is very blueee ..ı like bluee so muchhh ::byetheway you are the first visitor of my you are my luck ..can you add me your blog page if its possible ı need to much love :))

    By Blogger nelly, at 12:28  

  • nelly: Hi. If I am your luck you may be in trouble. :-p
    Of couse I will add you to the list of blogs. If you really want some exposure you could become a Red Hot Lover. :-)

    By Blogger The Unknown, at 15:17  

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