Beach Walk 306 – Fear of the Familiar

I’ve been out power boating the past couple of days, and fear has caught me by surprise.

Maybe it is related to a capsize that I experienced three years ago in rough seas with a skipper who was pushing the limits (a little too far.) I think I have a tendency to deny my fears until much later. Only to think, “Jeez! I did that???”

At the same time, I was observing today how my mind could focus on the facts of the situation (small seas, safe, new boat, very competent skipper, etc.) though I still had this unease in my body. How do you deal with fear?

And then, a nice little shark sand sculpture on the way back. 🙂

Hawaiian words
Makaʻu: fear

Be in Touch!


  1. Hey Rox,

    What your describing is similar to how Post Traumatic Stress can develop from life threatening traumatic incidents. When the brain is kicked into the fight or flight response the emotions of the incident can become repressed and dissociated and may reoccur later along with symptoms like anger and emotional flooding when triggered by something reminiscent and sometimes unrelated to the trauma in present time.

    It is pretty amazing how people often have no emotional memory of a traumatic experience at all. This is also kind of a dangerous evolutionary phenomena because it can interfere with how humans process and recall information for future decisions. It can also influence intergenerational trauma and can perpetuate a trauma/violence cycle.

    It has do with the operation of the amygdala. Peter Levine has an interesting theory about how humans and animals process life threatening experiences differently. His book is called “Waking the Tiger”. His theory is that animals are able to shake off body experiences and humans don’t. He is a big advocate for the mind-body approach to trauma healing.

    The Center for Mind Body Medicine also has an inspiring program in Washington DC called Healing the Wounds of War. They use mind-body techniques with people affected by war and natural disasters in countries like Israel, Gaza and Bosnia.

  2. David in Galveston, Tx says

    Hi Rox,

    My wife and i just purchased Kaimoku’s Ukulele music today. We’ have both grown to love listening to the music as you do you vlog. We also sent you 5 sand dollars to help Kaimoku’s bring in the new year. Thank heaven to be in 2007.

    Hau’oli Makahiki Hou (Happy New Year)

  3. Rox, no need for a powerboat in Hawaii with some of the worlds best trade winds! Sail to live…Live to Sail!
    Captain Jimmy

  4. It all depends what one does with fear. If you’re afraid of something and try to play it off like nothing happened, it sticks with you and you’ll feel fine until the next time similar circumstances come up.

    OTOH, if you really think about it and come to terms with that fear, hopefully very soon after the event occurs, you may be able to pinpoint individual items that really bothered you. The benefit of that is that you don’t allow yourself to become afraid of every aspect of that situation.

    From your example, people could become afraid of powerboats, afraid of going out in the water, afraid of being next to cliffs, afraid of being a passenger and not a driver….. when, really, the only problem there was that the driver wasn’t respecting the wishes of his passengers, and didn’t know his personal limitations.

    Also, +1 to Jen about the possible origins of PTSD.

  5. Great comments Jen – ever the insightful you.

    Mahalo David! We all appreciate your gift very much.

    Jimmy – I am with you. It’s why I paddle the outrigger canoe: I get to be out on the water, away fromt he land, but no whirring motors or metal parts to get stuck in!

    Bill – I agree with your comments, though they may fall into the “easier said than done” category, like a lot of things in life. It’s so easy when one “survives” a traumatic event, to think the work is done. My boating accident was frightening at times to be sure, but I also was disconnected from my fear as I focused on how I would take care of myself in the moment and in the event of a disaster. I was rescued and all I lost was a few pounds of adrenaline and my camera. The boat was totalled, a lot of coolers and food and supplies were trashed, but those can be replaced. I think it would have been useful de-briefing for me to go back out on the water in a power boat shortly thereafter and walked and talked through my nervous reactions. But that actually did not occur to me until now!

    I have often joked in my life, “If I can live through this, it will make a great story!!! So some part of me is attracted to adventure and some forms of extreme sports, but I hardly consder myself a wild risk-taker. Alas, I am sure others would diagree. 🙂