I'm all at sea and everything’s rocking. I feel a bit green. Emergency planning isn’t settling the mind or the stomach and each fresh wave makes me feel as though I’ve fallen through the floor. Luckily, those big waves don’t hit often – most of the time things are just a little choppy. I’m prepared to launch life rafts if it comes to that, but I’m praying that it won’t.
Watching the sky and reading the currents, I realise that it’ll be one storm after another for the foreseeable future. I signed up for a lengthy voyage of discovery and knew, of course, that it wouldn’t all be plain sailing, but I recognise now that the sea and the storms – call it nature, call it fate – have me at their mercy. Perhaps I am an inadequate sailor; certainly, I am not entirely the master of my own destiny. Heroism makes me think that, as the duty captain, I should go down with the ship – heroism is a tricksy hobbit. My never-restful mind wonders whether it was senseless heroism that landed me in this storm in the first place.
I love this vessel. I have devoted hours to caulking it, rigging it and polishing the decks; it contains all my worldly goods and more of my soul than I can enumerate. If it goes down a large part of me will sink with it. I am committed to steering it through these storms, past Charybdis and Scylla, and will sacrifice much to reach calm waters; but I know that – heroism be damned – I won’t sacrifice everything. The rope tying me to the mast is a long one and if necessary I have a knife, but if this voyage ends in failure I know I won’t have the heart to set out to sea again.