To raft or not to raft

I am a sucker for things I cannot do well. I gravitate towards it, spend months psyching myself that I CAN do it, fail brilliantly – and then pat myself on the back and said to myself that I tried. By some curious self-study, I realise that all these gigs involve the water.

Having an intimate love-hate relationship with the water is something that grew out of a deep fear of it since I was 6. I was swimming in the then East Coast Lagoon, somehow managed to reach the wooden platform floating in the middle of the lagoon and climbed on it like any curious 6-year old would. I was with my sisters and cousins, and I remembered sitting on the edge of the platform and hanging my 2 liitle legs out into the water, singing away. The next thing I know, someone pushed me from behind and splash I go into the water, struggling to keep afloat. I was saved by my cousin, but I swear to you, even till today – within the 15 seconds or so I was submerged inside the water, I saw an octopus. I did. I really did. I told everyone when I was ashore, but no one believed me. Now that I am older, I can rationalise it as hallucination since I must have been in deep fear when I was in the water, but the fear remains – never mind that the octopus is obviously gone and barbequed somewhere.

Anyway, since then, I was fearful to swim. A mandatory class to learn swimming in secondary school did not help me, I failed it because I could not take the test. When I was 24, I was determined to not let this water fear ruled my life, and this was when the water-challenge mission came to my life, and never left until today. I learnt how to swim from a lady whom I interviewed for a diving story for the paper I worked for, and she was the most patient instructor I know. Despite the fact that the night lesssons at the Anglo CHinese School at Barker Road meant eerie conditions due to the big, menacing, creepy-looking trees – I persevered, along with a few other friends. I wouldn’t say I am a good swimmer, but enough to gain some confidence to challenge the water again.

A few years later, I remembered how I had missed the fun my hostelmates had during their divijng trip to Tioman just because I was fearful of it. It took months for me to brave myself for it, and finally I did – not without its drama. During one practice session, I stood for 20 minutes on edge of the RIver Valley Swimming Pool – all suit-up, oxygen tank in place, regulator in my mouth – but I couldn’t. An old boyfriend then, along with my diving instructor were already in the pool and coaxing me to overcome my fear of jumping in – but all my 6 year old fear, octopus included, came rushing into my mind. I ended up sitting by the side of the pool – crying. By the way, I never had that diving license. I finished the entire course, but did not take the test. Wimp.

And then now, living so close to the Rockies and right in the heart of beautiful British Columbia – another water challenge came peering into my face. I have been telling DH that I WILL do the white-water rafting, even if I had to start with the Class 1 rapids (rapids come in categories of classes from 1-6 . CLass 6 being something like the aggressive gush of the Niagara Falls). There is a nearby white water river called the Chilliwack River and another one called the Thomson River which seems to be beckoning, but by my own record – I would need at least a few months to psyche myself up. By then, summer will be over and the water level may be too high or too low to raft. So how?

I don’t really want to see myself ‘fail brilliantly’, but I know I may just will. Maybe I should borrow SIL’s rubber dingy and practice floating on it in the river next to our house instead, that would be more methodical and gradual in building rafting-confidence wouldn’t it? Then again, thats boring – cause I am setting myself to successfully conquer the water. Its weird, but it seems the fact that no one believed my octopus story became a motivation for me to always do something which I know I cannot do so easily.

Look at what a 28-year-old incident did to me.So when your child said they saw an octopus in that pool or lagoon, please, do believe it.


  1. i believe you – promise… because i saw a mermaid…. really…. btw, gimme the name of the instructor, maybe she can help me get over my fear of bathing suits… momok#1

  2. momok #1 , your fear of bathing suits is totally understandable. Go to the gym lah!! Heheheh hohohohoh hhahahah !!! Satu kosong!!!

  3. like u, i’d a near miss to drowning @ the old toa payoh swimming pool during a swimming test, having jumped off the board 2 storeys above. i was also about 6 or 7. well, the pool was deep n no one, not even the instructor bothered to save me. i fell right into the deep blue water but unlike u, there was no octopus. lucky u, actually. there was company. the next time i braved up n jumped into water @ a swimming pool was 16 years later. this time, i had to prove myself. see!

  4. ah Val…Val…so glad someone understands!! But you conquered it yeah? I am still proving to myself!! When will this ever end…sigh (:

  5. Hi,

    Ended up at your blog via a friend’s posting of your views on the Brown affair, and read about your fears.

    There’s a really simple but powerful way of getting around fears.

    It’s called Emotional Freedom Techniques. You might want to try googling for someone who uses it in your neck of the woods and who has a counselling or hypnosis background, for best effect.

    I’ve used it in many ways, including helping someone with a fear of confined spaces and fear of flying. When it works, it works fast. With the confined space, I worked with him for 15 minutes.

    You can check my website for some links and more information.

    No time like the present to give yourself some freedom.


  6. Joe: Thanks for the lead. I went to your site for a quick scan, looks interesting. Will read up more abt it, and will be going canoeing tomorrow finally (not rafting though – not yet 😉 Wish me luck.

  7. oi akulah… dont tell anyone but i have phobia of swimming in open waters when when i cannot see my feet!!!! thanks to the movie “jaws”.. hehe

    guess who…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.