Shark Week!!

This week is one of my favorite weeks of the summer... Shark Week! Anyone who knows me, knows I LOVE the movie JAWS and have become quite shark infatuated, if you didn't already pick up on this from the title of my page. I've come to realize that my husband even resembles Roy Scheider, which may be more than a coincidence.

This summer is the 40th anniversary since JAWS was released back in 1975. I've now become aware that I saw this movie when I was 3 going on 4, depending on when in the summer we saw it since I have an August birthday. Knowing my mother, who was an avid reader, I am sure it was pretty soon after it came out. My brothers are 5 and 6 years older than me and I guess I was just brought along. Man that was young, and I remember crying during the movie because I didn't want any anyone else to die. We also summered on the Cape every year, my grandparents lived there and later my dad,  and the fear of the ocean was now deeply ingrained into my brain. I don't think it helped that they filmed on Martha's Vineyard, which made it all the more familiar in scenery. There was no escaping the fear, there must be sharks in the water that want to eat me. My grandmother was pretty mad that my mother took us all because we were always saying we were afraid. Sailboats scared me to ride in because they were so close to the water as they lean with the wind. My cousins and I flipped a Sunfish in the marina and as we scrambled to get it upright images of JAWS 2 kept running through my head. I swore to never ride on a Catamaran. Motorboats were fine, no one ate it on a motorboat. But jumping off and swimming back to the boat was always an adrenaline rush or swimming into the beach from the boat was anxiety laden. Man did I swim fast!

All of this has turned out well, however. I have grown to love and have become immensely interested in sharks. The fact that Great Whites have been showing up in Chatham the past five or six years excites me like a kid hearing the ice cream man coming down the street. I have a deep respect for the ocean; I know what it can do and what it contains. We are powerless over it. I think respectful fear is a much healthier fear or more of an awareness.  The same mantra goes through my head as I take a last swim, late in the day, the beach cleared of families, "No swimming at dusk or dawn, don't swim alone." Over and over again I repeat that phrase in my mind, not as a way to get myself all agitated, but a reminder to be careful and safe. Try to take calculated risks and be aware of what may happen if you don't. I also know to get out of the water if there is a lot of unusual things swimming around me, like seals or large schools of fish. Something larger may be chasing them.

All of this can also be parlayed into writing and illustrating. Take what you fear and twist it and study it. Find out what makes it tick and make it yours. Take some of the control but keep the knowledge with you that some of it is beyond your scope and understanding. But if you do your best to stretch your boundaries, amazing things can come of it. Those last few minutes where your feet are still dangling in the water as you climb back into the boat are the best.  Remember that feeling and steal a little bit of that power, as often as you can. When Brody asks why Hopper can't come, "...chum some of this...," Quint replies, "Hooper drives the boat Chief." Know your place, but always question. Someone will always be the captain, the driver of the boat, and the chum ladler with a fear of the water. But guess who wins in the end? Keep writing and illustrating til the fear is quieted, if only for a little while.