Humans have always grappled with the fear of what’s out there, not just underwater but up in the sky, or in the trees beyond the circle of firelight-all that is deep and dark and strange.The Uncertain Sea: Fear is everywhere. Embrace it
About the book:
Bonnie Tsui, the bestselling author of Why We Swim, a Time magazine Must-Read Book of 2020, writes about finding strength in the face of fear and uncertainty. Enlightening and inspiring, The Uncertain Sea is just the story most of us need right now.
Fear and uncertainty—emotions we’ve become all too familiar with this past year. From the pandemic to political upheaval to the recession to lurking environmental disasters, we’ve been battered by one unfathomable event after another, with more to come. How do we handle the emotional fallout from such traumas? How do we bounce back?
Bonnie Tsui tackles these big questions in The Uncertain Sea, her insightful look at fear and the many ways people handle it. Plagued by the anxiety she herself was feeling in 2020, she looked for guidance from an old friend whose very career would make most of us shudder. Ron Elliott is an underwater photographer specializing in sharks—in particular, the great whites of the Farallon Islands, off San Francisco, notorious for being one of the sharkiest spots on earth. Over the years, Elliott has had numerous close calls and was even attacked by a great white in 2018, nearly losing a hand. Yet still he returns to the water. Tsui wondered how Elliott managed risk and fear and what his resilience might teach the rest of us.
In her 2020 bestseller Why We Swim, Tsui—an accomplished swimmer and surfer—examines the cultural and biological aspects of our relationship to water. In The Uncertain Sea, she uses open water—and what lurks beneath the surface—as a metaphor to explore our psychological responses to the unknown. She draws on scientific research to better understand how and why fear manifests itself in humans, and frankly discusses her own deep-seated anxieties. She takes a thoughtful look at the movie Jaws, the blockbuster that cemented sharks in our collective unconscious as the symbol of all that is dangerous and scary. As a result, sharks—animals that are crucial to the food chain and present a statistically insignificant threat to people—have been threatened by overhunting. The fact that shark-liver oil is being used in developmental COVID vaccines that could save millions of lives adds to the dark irony of our shark mythology.
Throughout her narrative, Tsui turns back to her friend Ron Elliott, who, Buddha-like, finds his quiet center in the sharks’ cold, forbidding “living room.” He is comfortable with being uncomfortable; in fact, that’s how he finds his strength. It’s a lesson we all should learn.
“We are imperfect beings, teetering on a razor’s edge between reason and emotion,” Tsui writes. “What does resilience look like? Why do we embrace risk? My very human answer: We risk, sometimes a lot, so that we can seek joy.”
The author, Bonnie Tsui, writes about the fear and emotions a person undergoes in their lifetime. She shares her story of being afraid of sharks and how it is terrific that water monsters will come to us. The inspiration we all need now to let go through the pandemic. Ron Elliott, the underwater photographer, gets bitten by a shark. The value of him getting back in the water was courageous.
Bonnie Tsui shares the statistics data, humans kill one hundred million sharks per year, and six people are killed by sharks every year. So, eventually, sharks should be afraid of us.
More importantly, the author explains the psychological fact of the human mind thinking continuously about the unknown danger, resulting in uneasiness. We are always scared about the things we don’t even know might happen or not. The main focus of the book is to talk about being courageous. Even in a pandemic, we have to be brave, which is the key to keep going.
The discussion over the movie Jaws and actual events of how Carl Gottlieb co-wrote the movie with the author of the novel, Peter Benchley.
“So you put those two things together, and then give it a face and some teeth and a fin, and everyone goes, ‘Right, that’s the thing I’m scared of.'” Peter Benchley told the reporter.
The book is short, sweet, and up to a point. You will love it. I have also marked some of my favorite quotes from the book.
This world is a horrible place of uncertainties.
There is infinite fear that grappled us, and we have to keep our eyes open and keep enjoying ourselves.