Ever fish out at sea by yourself?
I was about 8 to 9 miles southeast of the Jones Inlet. The sea was mainly calm with a steady roll of slow-moving waves that swelled beneath the boat. It was quiet.
The air was clear but the sky was gray. Yet, there was no threat of rain. It was just quiet is all. There is no other way to explain it.
I remember scanning around to see some of the other boats that were fishing in the distance near the lobster pots. I chose to fish away from the crowds with whole squid for bait.
I sunk the line down to the bottom with a few ounces of led and waited patiently.
The drop was not excessively deep but the difference in depth between this spot and inshore fishing was certainly different.
This was my first boat. She was a smaller vessel, about 21’ in length, but she was good to me.
I sat in the cockpit and dropped my bait down to the bottom. Then I jigged the line every once in a while to create some attention to whatever it is that was swimming down below.
It wouldn’t have mattered if I caught anything. It was just enough to be out there, you know?
There was no land in sight. There was nothing around but the panoramic view of the ocean at a fishing spot called The Cholera Banks.
There is no need to fit in at a place like this. There is no social or moral injustice. There is only the overhead sky and the water below.
The gulls would fly by and work the surface of the water to find food.
It was fine to not have the sun on my face. The air was perfect this way. Everything was as calm and the rise and fall of the ocean was like the sleeping chest of a loving breath.
It is like this out here for me. The sea is somewhere I can find myself. There is no sense of urgency and no fear of rejection.
There is only me and the freedom of the changing tides, which come and go, and take away my troubles to some far away land.
There is no worry about status and no constant bickering in the mind, or the back and forth, with constant questions that regard my deeper insecurities.
No, out at sea is different.
There was only me and my vessel. The fish were active but this is the least part of the story. The main focus was the sense of peacefulness and the way it soothed my soul
This is my chapel. Out there in the sea, this is where I go to find comfort and solace and joy at the same time. There is no place like it in the world.
There are times when I felt a certain way. And I don’t like it. I remember seeing a little dog that was scared. Unfortunately, this little dog lived through a serious tragedy that I will leave out because I do not want to distract the emotion. However, the dog was petrified. I saw the small beagle-like dog at the train station. The woman was clearly distraught and with good reason. There was dust and debris on her from an explosion that took place downtown. The dog was shivering near her side. I reached down to offer the pup some warmth. I could see him, crying, and pleading to me for acceptance. The woman told me how the dog could use some love. The dog was wagging its tail, just begging for a friend, and the dog would literally do anything for this, even at its own peril.
I think this is the best analogy for me when I am (or was) the most insecure; always afraid, always hoping for some warmth from the hand, always hoping to be accepted, to belong, to feel wanted, and be loved.
This little dog was like me, wagging a tail and offering myself to someone or anyone and pleading to be loved.
I’m sure this is all anyone wants.
Who would want to feel like that little puppy or be reminded of the idea that rejection like this is real or actually exists?
I was out at sea, fishing the bottom for sea bass and fluke, and thinking about this. I can do that here by the way.
I can think anything I want or feel anything I feel and not have this be a “thing” because of where I am.
I can do this out at sea because the sea moves and the waters drift, which to me is the best kind of medication. In fact, nautical medication is better than any antidepressant I’ve ever known about.
I sat comfortably at the back of my boat and let the fish bite. I let my line down. More openly, I allowed myself to let all of this rest.
There has to be a place for one and all that even if only for a moment, we can go here and cast away the sins of our shame or the weight of our hearts. And in return, we can come home cleansed from the ideas we spend too much time rehearsing in our daily life.
I write about this because I am reminded of that feeling of being like the dog. And it hurts to know this is real. It hurts but at least I can navigate my dreams somewhere and think about the ocean. I like that the current is strong enough to carry my thoughts away to parts unknown.
Sadly, I have not been out to sea in quite some time. I have dreamed about this. I look at the classifieds sometimes and check out the boats for sale.
I like to imagine myself out there, at sea, and nothing else matters except for a full can of bait, some good weather, and the birds that work the surface.
I admit though, as humbly as I can offer and as authentic as the written word will allow me to express; there are times when I am scared.
There are times when I feel like that dog, just hoping to be protected and safe, to be wanted, loved, and asking for a little warmth from the hand.
It’s not easy when we change climates. It’s not easy when the seasons change and it is not easy when we have to move away from our sources of comfort. It’s tough. I get that.
It’s scary being alone. I get that too. But I was alone at sea and to tell you the truth, sometimes being alone is the right thing to do.