I am what you could call "a beach person". I love idling away on the beach. That is, when the sun is not yet out. When the ocean's deep blue and the beach full of people. When it's frothy and sprays you across the face. When it makes you want to throw your clothes away and plunge into the salty water. When it transforms grown-up men into the amoebae they once evolved from, thrashing away at the waves, feeling tranquil and content with this way of life. A thousand voices of laughter all mingling to form a general "happy" background noise. It makes you want to lie down, stare at the horizon and stay there forever.
However, tonight was the first time I went there after dark. At night, the ocean looks sinister and dark. The beach is empty. It looks as if conspiring to take you alone by surprise. Reach out with unseen tentacles, grab you and swallow you deep into its maw. The froth reminds me of a mad dog's mouth, slavering canines and all, ready to bite without warning or reason; the swish-swash of the waves breaking as they reach shore sounds of low growling.
In fact, I am so scared of the ocean at night that the mere sight makes my hair stand and churns my stomach.
So tonight I tried out an experiment. I first decided that I have noctomarephobia (nocto=night, mare=sea, yes, i coined this) - the unnatural fear of the sea at night. Why unnatural? Well, consider the odds of a tsunami suddenly rising out the ocean at the exact time that I happen to be strolling on the beach, and then all my limbs cramping at the same time so I can't even swim back. Or the probability of a deep sea giant squid lashing out its tentacles and finding me for dinner. You get the idea - it's very very very very improbable. So my fear must be unnatural. Given that, the only way now to get rid of the fear is to confront the situation - much like AXN's "Fear Factor" (except not do it on camera and make it all artificial).
Hostel life is a two-sided coin. It's fun to live out freely but tends to get overbearingly boring in routine. In recent time, I had been feeling totally pained and idle. Therefore, ... beach. There were eight of us who'd gone to the beach, and here I can extoll endlessly about the virtues of hostel life - independence, friendship, blah blah blah....
So I nervously (I admit) walked towards the sea, and unable to push it all away, finally succumbed to fear about 10 feet away from where the waves were hitting the beachfront.
This is when four of us just continued on to the edge and waded into the water. It was my cue. I followed, albeit still scared. And reached the edge. I let the waves come and wash my feet. Nothing happened. No sea monster, no sudden wall of water. No dead bodies floating bloated in the water. No crabs gnawing on my toes. No plastics filled with nuclear waste. Actually, that last one, I just made it up. But seriously, the rest were all things I would fear.
I stayed there for a long time. I walked along the edge of the water in one direction for a few minutes, just to be alone. Everyone was quite for a while - something that doesn't happen too often. I just kept staring into the horizon, at the dark ocean merging into the cloudy grey sky so seamlessly.
We stayed at the beach for quite a long time. It was about 11 o'clock when we finally returned. The general chit chat had begun again.
I stole another glance at the beach. It was still dark and gloomy and lonesome. But I wanted to lie down, stare at the horizon and stay here forever. I had conquered my fear of the ocean at night.