We’d been sailing all night and were coming up 17 hours on the water.
It had been a night darker than coal; no moon, thick dense cloud. I couldn’t even make out the bow of the boat.
The wind had been keen and the waves had whooshed. It was anyone’s guess what they looked like beyond the ghostly froth of bubbles that stirred as the boat ploughed through the water.
It felt like the waves were big. It felt like we were going fast.
Come the grey of morning, we were exhausted and the sea was a confused mess, as if it was throwing a temper tantrum at the injustice of the early start to a new day.
For about two hours, the boat rolled violently from side to side as we hung on and listened to boat parts banging and crashing.
It was left to Mark to navigate and steer us through the roiling waves with the wind dangerously behind; the conditions being beyond my skills as a newbie sailor to man the helm.
Mark was dead tired but was forced to keep his eyes open and synapses firing in order to get us to Padstow safely.
He admitted afterwards that he had struggled; that he was close to breaking; that it required all his will power to continue to man the helm when he just wanted to give up.
He admitted that he felt weak for having wobbled.
But Mark was focusing on the wrong side of the equation.
He was focusing on the feeling that he shouldn’t have struggled, that he should have been better, that he wasn’t a good sailor because good sailors probably don’t have moments of weakness.
He wasn’t focusing on the fact that he was human; that we all have moments of weakness, that we all struggle, that it’s perfectly normal and natural to have a wobble.
But more importantly, he wasn’t focusing on the fact that despite the conditions, despite how he felt, HE DID NOT BREAK.
He could have. He was close. But he didn’t.
That’s inner strength. To be close to losing it and still push through. To find a smidgeon of energy to just keep going that little bit more. To not give up even though you really really really want to.
Mark got it wrong.
He wasn’t weak. He was strong.
Much stronger than he realised or gave himself credit for.
He’s not alone. There is this inner strength in all of us.
I felt it when I had a meltdown in a muddy forest when walking the length of New Zealand – I had to get out somehow, so I had to keep going.
It’s there when your boss is a jerk and you still turn up to work because you believe in the cause and want to see the project through.
It’s there when your children are screaming blue murder and you just want to walk away and keep on walking but you stay because you love them.
It’s there when your computer decides to not compute and you have visions of throwing it out the window but you don’t.
It’s there when your ex-boyfriend is emotionally abusive and you turn up everyday with a smile on your face.
We all have wobbles. Sometimes we break. We’re only human after all and that’s OK.
That doesn’t mean we’re not strong. Because we are.
Because we have the resilience and strength to pick ourselves up again.
Don’t beat yourself up for being human. We’re stronger than we think.