Unhooking My Self
One recent morning in the Exumas I awoke in a cold sweat...my boat bunk soaked and saturated with my shame.
As a gentle breeze flowed through my state room’s overhead hatch, its caress and accompanying sunrise slowly opened my sleep-filled eyes. A peculiar early hour sensation unsettled my waking. As Nature's tranquility surrounded my vessel, I became of an unsettling within. My thoughts were milling and mulling over my previous day's loss. Those mourning messages made me realize I had not completely reconciled yesterday's mishap. I was still hooked by yesterday's loss.
After two hours of kayaking the day before, I had returned to Mystique for lunch and then a nap. But during my snooze, a waking motor boat’s wayward wave jostled Mystique, causing Cammie to lose her balance. The sudden splashes amongst the ensuing clashes / crashes of my lunch dishware muffled her swift departure. Somehow I sensed she had slipped secretly away. She had finally left me. But my reaction was to let her go... so I did not chase after her. Nevertheless her disappearance must have moved my emotions more than I could discern.
The boat hook "S" hook I rigged to rescue Cammie.
I knew she couldn't and wouldn't jump overboard by herself. She left me because I didn't take care of her. It was all my fault she was gone. But I also knew some swift gust or tempting tidal current could not have pulled her overboard. It is true she could not swim and she did not know how to float. And I had to take some responsibility for her departure. It was I who had carelessly dropped her off on Mystique when I should have helped her get safely aboard. And she didn't know how to swim; she certainly wouldn't have jumped into some passing stranger's yacht on a whim or a whistle. I envisioned she was simply too faithful and too attached to her past to move on. And besides in my mind she belonged to me. Her place was with me!
Isn’t a man supposed to be careful, cautious and vigilant around those he loves? Isn’t a man supposed to protect and provide? And isn’t a man supposed to rescue his love?
My mind echoed "I could have done more. I could have been more."
Actually, doesn't a mature man need to learn to rescue himself first?
Guilt must have swept over me like an incoming tide. I replayed my thoughtlessness over and over. When we returned from our kayak-outing, I hadn't been paying enough attention to her. I hadn't been awake enough mid-day yesterday; I had been un-careful and unconscious. My thoughts blamed me. They said "I should have guarded her; I should have been a sentinel; It was, after all, my fault.”
She had sailed with me for over three years. She had endured the wet, rocky and and rough. She had grown on me; she had been part of me. I knew her history; I knew deep down her worldly, well-traveled, well-versed, well-rehearsed ways. Her waves would undo me. She knew how to handle herself in the right hands and I knew I was wrong for her. She might have looked good on my shoulder, but I knew I could not carry her weighty experiences. We were always alone together.
She had never really been there in the way I had envisioned her. But having her rest on my shoulder seemed so vivid and real. While I could still imagine her, I felt like I had lost a part of myself. I could even feel her absence along with mine. I missed our TWO-getherness. Yes, I somehow missed her. At first, I thought I missed her for how she enhanced my life. But then it dawned on me how selfish and self-centered that thinking was. I soon realized my perception had been all about how she added value to my life. But this was my misperceiving ego at work.
It was so true Cammie had been made more than a cameo appearance in my life. She had walked around her block, around neighborhoods actually, quite a few times. Let's say she knew her way around. Yet she was not some fly by night flusey; she came with a hefty price tag. She had dignity and Her sudden disappearance had to be more than just some random rogue wave sweeping her off my deck. I knew she had probably lost her balance, slipped or tripped and then fallen off while I slept. She took a sweet photo. If I pushed her buttons, she responded with a great shot. Her sense of timing And I knew Cammie well enough, she couldn't have just floated away. Certainly her disappearance had to have an accomplice.
Somehow I could still sense her quiet presence. yet her silence penetrated my thoughts and imagination. Her cold shoulder had told me she wasn't coming back, but I still did not believe her. She had clearly disappeared, but I denied the truth. My imagined image of her besides me was not yet behind me. What I discovered wasn’t that I lost her; I lost myself. The reality was in losing her, I found myself.
Sand Dollar Beach, Elizabeth Harbor, Great Exuma
And my wakeup compelled me to chase after her. I figured it out. I felt I had to take the proverbial plunge to search for her. I had to demonstrate how much I really cared. I knew deep down inside and outside that I had to retrieve and return her to me. If I didn't, I would never know if we were meant to be together. I knew if I didn't chase after her now, I might regret it later. I knew she won't come back on her own. She wasn't that kind of needy soul. And I wasn't either or so I thought.
I somehow perceived Cammie needed to be rescued. My instincts told me she could be rescued and I then convinced myself once again I would rescue her. I knew I needed to feel first I had to locate her. Then I could lure and lift her back to where she belonged. She now belonged to the sea, but if I rescued her, she would belong back to me....so I thought!
Later that morning the metaphor suddenly startled me. Yesterday I had helped Cammie out of the kayak after our 2-3 mile paddle and returned her to Mystique safely, but then I had not been attentive to her and her needs. I had not valued her as I should have. I had taken her for granted. Yes, I got her onboard my boat's stern steps, but I had not ushered her inside the safety and security of our cabin. I had neglected her and left her behind. And it wasn't surprising later when I turned to find her, she had disappeared. It then suddenly dawned on me I had actually left her. No wonder she was gone. If I had been in her place, I would have been washed away as well. This new understanding enlightened and enlivened my energy.
I knew I could prove it is not true "we have sleep in the bed we lay in." It was now or never. If there was any depth and breadth to my devotion and desire, I had to take the leap (dive), fish her out and bring her back onboard.
With my face mask and snorkel, I peered under Mystique's stern swimming steps into the 20 foot water and could see her strap. She was half-hidden by the shifting sands of a night's stay underwater.
Seemingly sedate and seductive, she could easily turn on you. When it was her turn, she could swing and spin dark or blue. Yet in a flash she could light up a room; put a smile on your face. Cam could snap up anyone in a second; Cameo had an easy, light sway about her. She functioned best when handled and touched with care and confidence; she did nothing if she was ignored or bored.
Her quick and simple charms beamed however they belied her complexity. Her makeup could be complex yet at times perplexing. Her appearance and quiet demeanor spoke simplicity. Cammie’s view of life was narrow at best. In a three dimensional world, she possessed and posed with a one dimensional personality. To her everything seemed cute and colored; she could see nothing appeared in black and white terms.
When I first noticed her, she wowed me with her compact body and sleek look. She hooked me into my hooking myself into buying her presence. When recharged, she could capture your heart in a second. If her energy was low, she kept you waiting. She had a talent where she could see into the depths of the invisible. She could charm and dazzle any scene in a second, if she was handled right. But push her wrong buttons, she could become blurry and unfocused. She could even turn on you. Cammie possessed a dual personality; she had light and dark parts to her personality. Her light lit up a room. Her dark side could lure then leave in a moment. She was quick to captivate; quick to capture, and she could frame me like nobody's business.
Cammie's blue mood
Cammie was a hooker of sorts. She was skilled at framing anything and anyone. She could capture my attention and then just as easily turn her focus to another. When she recharged her battery, she could capture your heart. She could see into the depths of the invisible. She could capture your heart one moment but not be ready to witness the next. Part of her charm was she rarely sought or brought any attention to herself. She seemed unselfish that way, but her subtle and patient approach belied her aurora. She felt light and captured light in and out of the water. Often Cammie seemed comfortable just hanging around. But while her memory would mostly recall joyful times, she could only remember certain images. Her memory seemed to possess limited storage. Cammie was a camera, after all.
Cameras can hook anyone, but isn't it really we who hook ourselves? Somehow I made the mistake I could capture more moments with her than without.
Cammie's dark side
The next morning finally dawned on me.
The next night cleared and the moon was now almost full and brightest.