Varying visages of the sea

Some say that humans – that’s us – came out of the sea. I doubt that. I fear the sea. Yet, one cannot deny the possible birthplace of the species. Indeed, the ‘slippery’ ones amongst us seem to confirm a watery origin of the species. Anyway, it is said that our body fluids are either the same as, or are compatible with, sea water. But that does not prevent us from drowning in the sea.

The threat of drowning loomed large when I was a passenger on a 2,000 ton ship crossing the Timor Sea. It was a little ship. We were travelling from Fremantle (on the west coast of Australia) to Singapore. After crossing the Timor Sea, the ship ‘sailed’ between the Indonesian islands to reach Singapore.

The sea was peaceful initially, edged on the east by white beaches (in the main), until we reached waters known for their turbulence. The ship was loaded with fruit, vegetables, and huge, black, big-horned cattle. The horns had sharp points. The red eyes of the animals were not friendly.

Then the ship began its rock-and-roll. The front of the vessel first rose high into the air; then dropped so low that that the sea rushed in through the holes for the anchors. This was followed by a sideways roll. This dance, with the ship then moving up and down while simultaneously lunging from side to side like a football player, ruined many appetites at meal times. Strangely, the ship successfully managed to bob up and down on these rumbustious waters.

Finally, the sea settled. There was no sound anywhere. Watching from a darkened lounge in second class, I observed the sky lit by a million stars, but the starlight did not enable me to see the black sea.

Such is life. The sea’s many faces reflect the changing experiences of human life. The lesson is to ride with the currents of life, however they change, the way the little ship rode the waves.

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