I’d almost forgotten that today was the first day of the halibut/blackcod longlining season until I read a short article about it in National Fisherman magazine this morning. I’ve only talked to George once since he left. We are hard people to catch in beween “boat stuff” and “baby stuff,” so we often just leave quick messages to let each other know how things are going, and call it good.
When George is at sea and I am at home, we both have jobs to do. If he is worried about how things are going at home, it makes it harder for him to do his job on the boat. If I’m worried about how things are going on the boat, I can’t do my job at home. Each person has to focus on what he or she has in front of her and not get distracted. We have to stay the course, no matter what.
Of course, I am always curious to know how the crew is doing, how fishing is, how George is. But I can’t and don’t sit at home and check weather. I don’t check prices, review catches, investigate landings, or otherwise involve myself in anything else related to the actual fishing-end of things. That’s George’s business.
While he appreciates my encouragement and support, he doesn’t need or want input from me in this area. He knows his business through and through and has the record to back it up. He also knows that I have enough on my plate and that adding unnecessary strain to it would not benefit my little ones or me.
Do I get nervous about the risks? Yes. Do I think “What if?” Yes. Do I have nightmares? Yes.
Do I spend more than thirty seconds thinking about any of it? No.
I learned this strategy from my mom. She was as solid as a rock when my dad was at sea and had full faith in my dad’s ability to run a boat and navigate the sea. I never heard her express fear or concern about winter in Alaska, ocean conditions, or boat dynamics. She busied herself taking care of her children and the household. She knew that any outward fear she expressed would impact her children and be a detriment to all.
We didn’t even have cell phones, satellite phones, or e-mail communication back then; there was ship-to-shore radio and a pay phone at the top of the dock. We didn’t have minute-to-minute or day-to-day updates. For that matter, entire weeks would pass without word as to how it was going.
I only saw my mom “rattled” one time. It was after my grandmother had called, worried about a winter Alaska storm and the possiblity that my dad was trapped in the middle of it.
For some reason that time, my grandmother’s call shook all of us up. My mom became uncharacteristically nervous. My sisters and I were scared to death, worried about Dad. We couldn’t sleep and we fought back tears as my mom, grim faced, called the Coast Guard and asked them to locate Dad.
Of course, nothing was wrong. Dad was fine. Grandma had been overly-worried (understandably, having been a fisherman’s wife herself). We all breathed a sigh of relief and continued about our business. Looking back now, I appreciate the lesson: Don’t allow people, news, weather reports, fear, or anything else to rattle you.
Don’t invite more panic and anxiety to take root in your day. Just stay the course, and steady as she goes.