The Fear of Water (Vast and Deep)

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Lakes. Deep pools. Oceans.


Actually, add large water to the list. Even Olympic-sized lap pools give me the heebies if no one else swims.

Statistically, almost anything that could occur to me in wide or deep water ranks lower in likelihood than the risks involved in everyday driving, for example. And though I did watch “Jaws” at too impressionable an age, no one questions the improbability of a “Jaws” scenario—including the author of the novel that generated the film, Peter Benchley.

Sure, I can logic myself out of my fear.

For example: In Belize, I talked myself into jumping off a pier into the ocean and swimming around it to the beach. The trip didn’t take long and I felt moderate panic the entire way, but I did it. I couldn’t visit Belize and not get into the ocean.

Yet though my water fear is illogical on some levels, I feel it has complete soundness on others:

Land Animals

Every animal fears losing control of its situation. Although complete control is a mirage in any scenario, humans are land animals. Water is not our natural element. In the water, we have less control than we have on land.

We can get sucked in and under by whirlpools and undercurrents. If we pass out, we will drown. Our lack of proper water-animal biology inhibits our control of how to manage: flippers, streamlined bodies, an ability to “breathe” liquid (how freaky is that?), skin designed for lengthy immersion in different kinds of waters (salt, fresh, and chlorinated), fat deposited in the right spots to better allow for floating. And so on.

Water Creatures

And all these biological disadvantages in the water mean we lack most defenses against water creatures.

Go ahead, laugh.

But if I get snacked on in a large lake or deep ocean, I can’t blame the animal doing the munching. After all, I did get all bold and venture my arrogant self into his domain. If he picks off the low-hanging fruit (or whatever the more appropriate aquatic metaphor would be), who can I blame?

That’s right. Myself.

As a land animal, I’ll stick to running.

Do you have an “irrational” fear?