Jeremy ran his finger along the tray, collecting the last drops of nacho cheese. “I don’t know what I’m go’na do.”
“What’s the big deal?” Pat swizzled his ice tea.
“It’s our twenty-fifth anniversary.” He slurped the cheese. “The look on Sally’s face when she saw the Cruise Alaska ad…” He sighed, “I already booked the trip.”
Pat drummed his fingers. “So…”
“The thought of being on the ocean makes me nervous.” Jeremy rested his chin on his hand. “I don’t want her to know I’m afraid of the ocean. It’s embarrassing.”
“I think I can help.” Pat took a sip of his tea. “It was Corita Kent who said, flowers grow out of darker moments.”
“How would you know that?”
“Never mind.” Pat smiled. “Just meet me at the beach tomorrow at ten.”
Jeremy stood atop a dune, gazing across the beach toward the crystal blue sea. “So why are we here?”
“Dale Carnegie said, if you want to conquer fear, don’t sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” Pat sat on the sandbank.
Jeremy gave a perplexed look.
“Don’t ask…We’re going to change your image of the ocean; turn your trepidation into something positive.” Pat gestured toward the horizon. “Just look at its beauty. listen to the surf on the rocks…the seagulls singing, smell the salt air;, feel the…”
Seagull droppings splattered on Pat’s head.
Jeremy’s laughter mimicked the gulls circling overhead.
Jeremy walked along the sand. “I have to admit that I won’t see the beach the same way after last week.” He chuckled. “But the ocean still makes me nervous.”
Pat smirked. “Ambrose Redmoon said, courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.”
Jeremy stopped and stared. “How do you…”
“That’s not important.” Pat walked backward into the water. “What’s important is that cruise…Getting you used to the water is the next step.” He continued until he was knee deep. The tide flowed out. “Just come out this far and feel…What’s got me?” His eyes grew wide as he thrashed, falling into the foaming water.
“Pat!” Jeremy sprinted into the surf, lunging toward where Pat fell. He helped his friend to his feet, unwinding a long strand of kelp.
Pat gasped for air.
“I appreciate what you’re doing, but this isn’t the same as being out in the ocean.” Jeremy chuckled. “But at least I know to watch for that killer seaweed.”
Pat splashed water at him in disgust.
Jeremy shut the car door. “You signed us up for scuba lessons?”
“Thomas Carlyle said the first duty of man is to conquer fear; he must get rid of it, he cannot act till then.” Pat walked toward the wharf.
“Did you inherit a fortune cookie factory or something?”
Jeremy and Pat sat on deckchairs near the bow of the boat.
“My name’s Rolando.” The young man paced the deck. “I understand you’re nervous about the high seas.” He made eye contact with Jeremy. “I hope before today’s over you’ll trust our ability to keep you safe. You should have respect for the ocean, but it was B.G. Jett who said, fear can't hold a candle to unswerving faith, much less muster up the guts to even attempt to blow it out.”
Jeremy socked Pat’s shoulder. “Is this why you chose him?”
“Let’s learn about the equipment.” Rolando grabbed his tank. “First we’ll check the regulator by depressing this button.”
Pat put the air supply to his mouth.
“But don’t put it in your mouth or you’ll…”
Psssssssssssssssst. Pat activated his airflow.
“…end up with a belly full of air.” Rolando shook his head.
Pat spit the mouthpiece out. Buuuuuuuuurrrrp.
Jeremy burst into laughter.
“So my plan wasn’t that good.” Pat backed out from the parking space. “But look at all the little victories you’ve had. Arthur Ashe said, every time you win, it diminishes the fear a little bit.”
“You’ve convinced me.” Jeremy grinned. “But you forgot an important quote.”
Pat stared with a stunned expression.
“What David said to Solomon,” Jeremy continued. “Do not fear nor be dismayed, for the Lord God is with you.”
“Oh sweetheart.” Sally embraced Jeremy. “You booked a cruise?” She gazed into his eyes, a disconcerted expression on her face.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
“This is going to sound silly.” She caressed his hand. “But the thought of being on the ocean makes me nervous.”
Bible reference paraphrased from 1 Chronicles 28:20 (New American Standard Bible)
Title quoted from Marie Curie.
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