Sunday, April 15, 2012

Sinking Ships

To honor the anniversary of its sinking, I signed up on Twitter to receive “real time” tweets from the Titanic a week or two ago.  In all honesty, the tweets have been a bit of a pain in my butt.  There have been a LOT of them.  But while my phone’s constant buzzing over the last week has driven me slightly mad, I’ve learned quite a bit and enjoyed the sensation of being a part of the adventure.  
But tonight is a different matter.  As you may know, Titanic sunk in the early morning hours of April 15th.  Because of the time differences between our locations, that means that for me, it’s sinking just before midnight on Friday, April 14th.  I knew the tweets during the actual sinking would make me uncomfortable, but I wasn’t prepared for the depth of emotion I’m feeling.
All evening, I was getting tweets about how Titanic was receiving numerous messages from other ships regarding ice & icebergs in it’s path.  And how the various crew members basically ignored the warnings.  Thinking about the human ignorance involved and how many lives would have been saved if just one of those messages had been noticed upset me to the point that I actually got down right hostile towards my family.  (Good thing they are used to me blaming them for things way beyond their control.)
But now that the boat is actually sinking.... and the reports of half empty life boats being launched are coming through....  and knowing what’s to come....  I’m actually shedding a few tears.  
I’ve been on my share of sinking ships.  Actually, they were all boats.  Some were canoes.  Some small, one or two man sailboats, a few ski boats, several larger sail boats, but the largest of them all was probably only about 20 - 25 feet.  No big sinking ocean liners for me.  Just small, manageable boats.  But I have sunk my share.   I’ve also had to either swim or paddle a boat home because of broken masts,  broken rudders, lost or missing paddles and engines that refused to start.  Honestly, I’m not sure which is more embarrassing - the number of boats I’ve sunk, or the number of times I’ve had to swim a boat home because something went wrong & I was without a paddle.  The sinkings were all just bad luck.  The paddle problems were pure stupidity.  Well, except for a few cases when the boat rolled & the paddle was lost in the process.  But still, those paddles should have been tied down.
But the point of all that is that I’ve ended up in the water plenty of times but the water was always warm.  Well, mostly warm.  Warm enough not to have ice floating in it, that’s for sure!  The air temperature was also always warm.  Or at least warm enough.  Another point in my favor is that every single one of my mishaps took place in a river, the Gulf or a gigantic lake.  I take pride in the fact that I’ve remained dry every time I’ve ever ventured onto the ocean.  That’s not to say that the various mishaps weren’t exciting.  There were massive numbers of jelly fish involved in a few of the adventures and at least one of them involved the super nasty “blood sucking” kind.  There’s been electrical storms.  There was the sinking without life preservers & one of my fellow shipmates didn’t know how to swim.   Luckily, we were fully stocked with coolers.  Coolers float.  Of course, all those coolers may have had something to do with why we were dumb enough to go out without life preservers, but I digress.  There was the 4th of July when each time we shot off the flare gun, passing boats would return fire with fire crackers & bottle rockets.  And if you consider my wind surfing accident a “boating” accident, there have been extremely large fish & a broken back involved.  
But throughout all those accidents, I was in control.  Well, as much control as you can be in when you are sputtering and wondering what the Hell just happened to your boat & why on earth are the paddles & coolers are floating away from the upside down &/or swamped boat at such a high rate of speed.  With the exception of the wind surfer, each accident was resolved by (1) making sure everyone else was accounted for & conscious, (2) righting the boat if possible, & (3) either climbing back into the boat & paddling for home or grabbing a rope and swimming the boat back to shore.  And while I will admit to screaming like a little girl while swimming through massive amounts of jelly fish &/or while lightening struck all around me, I was never in a true panic situation.  The situation was always under control.  Even the wind surfing accident which resulted in a broken back was dealt with without panic, mainly because, although I couldn’t feel anything from the waist down, I still had the use of my arms and a bit of control over my situation.
But those folks on the Titanic....  The air is freezing.  The water is even colder.  They don’t fully understand or comprehend what is happening to them.  They have no true control over who makes it onto a lifeboat & who doesn’t.  There are so many people & fear breeds fear.  Panic sets in & it’s all over for them.
And while the panic grows, the water rises.  The bow sinks.  The stern follows.  Titanic is no more.
And I shed a few more tears & sing...
For Those In Peril On the Sea:
Eternal Father strong to save
Whose arm has bound the restless wave
Who bids the mighty ocean deep
It's own appointed limits keep
O hear us when we cry to Thee
For those in Peril on the sea
    Phil Coulter

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