I wholeheartedly believe that we should ban DihydrogenMonoxide.
Well, not really. This compound is vital for all life forms. Without it, I wouldn’t exist to write this on a computer that also wouldn’t exist. So I hereby admit that the stuff is pretty nice to have around. But that which giveth life can also taketh away. I actually find it to be the scariest, most powerful, and intimidating substance in the world. (We all know that I am talking about water, right?)
My first experience, that I can remember, with water involves only outwardly benign encounters: baths of warm, soapy bubbles; glasses cool and wet with condensation on a hot summer afternoon; jumping through a sprinkler in the backyard; exploring the creek at the bottom of the hill. Happy memories, right? Sure, but no one warned me that missing my esophagus for my windpipe when downing that refreshing glass of H2O could be the end of me!
I don’t mean to be melodramatic here, but a lot can go wrong around water – drowning being the first one that comes to mind. But the thought of death from drowning doesn’t cause me to hyperventilate as much as losing the battle of control over the forces that power water. I’m talking about giant ocean waves and currents, white water rapids, frozen lakes and rivers that break beneath your feet. These forces are hard to interpret, tough to control, and beyond most of the population’s understanding - I don’t get plumbing, let alone the physics behind hydraulics in a class five river rapid.
My most recent freak out caused by water was a couple of days ago at Playa la Barqueta in Panama. What I thought would be just another fun afternoon of our tropical vacation turned into Stephanie getting beat up, thrown around, and altogether dominated by the Pacific Ocean. Those waves were down right mean. It probably didn’t help that I was nervous as soon as I got in over my knees, but they didn’t make it any easier to get a handle on things. The goal was to play around and body surf. I only got as far as a painful sunburn and a sore ass. One wave picked me off my feet and threw me down on the ocean floor hard enough to cause abrasion, a brief limp, and a flash, ultimately speculative, of fear that I might have injured my spine.
After some perfectly toned urging (a combination of seize the day, don’t be such a wuss, and you’re so close to getting it right) from Richard – who was having a great time in the water, I might add – I tried again, and again. All attempts ended in me running, swimming, or crawling for my life from the next unpredictable wave that I was convinced was directly behind me ready to swallow me whole.
I survived – duh – but only because my preservation instincts to get-out-while-you-still-can trumped my prideful impulse to get-it-the-F-right-or-die-trying. Fear is a great motivator.
But I’m not the only one who has experienced the terror that water can inflict. Take, for instance, the recent scare that the “brain-eatingamoeba” has caused. That single-celled pest swims up your nose when you’re just out for a dip. Or cholera in Haiti, giardia in streams, or botulism in canned foods. Even mosquitoes use water to breed. This stuff is bad news.
In all seriousness, far more people will die this year fromcar accidents than all of the aforementioned water borne illnesses combined – PSA, always where your seat belt – but that doesn’t mean it can’t be chilling.
Basically, what that means for me is that because I wear my seat belt, I will always be scared of water. If you don’t follow that logic, don’t worry; it's just the fear talking.