Yesterday’s Fresh Air* featured an interview with Richard Phillips, the merchant marine captain whose ship was intercepted by Somali pirates. Capt. Phillips was taken hostage by the pirates and was freed after several days when US Navy sharpshooters killed the pirates.
I love Capt. Phillips’ no-nonsense description of the affair, especially this part (emphasis added):
DAVIES: How did you react emotionally to the experience in those first few days?
Capt. PHILLIPS: I did have problems. The first two nights, I would find myself waking up at five o’clock in the morning and just be crying my eyes out, bawling – something a New England sea captain doesn’t do too much. It was sort of strange to me. So I would, you know, throw some water in my face, and I was just going, what are you a wimp? I’m alive. What do you got to be complaining about? I was able to talk to -actually, one of the SEALs insisted I talk to a psychologist, and I did. And he really broke it down into chemicals that are excreted by your various glands and what happens, and he would ask me questions about things I had.
And the only problem I had was I would wake up, at that time – it happened twice to me, the first two nights I was off the life raft. After talking to him after the second morning, he gave me – he asked me, what did I do? And I said, well, I told you, just what I said. I’d throw water on my face. I’d go take a shower. I’d say what are you a wimp? What’s your problem? And he said, well, don’t do that. Don’t fight it. Let it flow. Let it flow as long as it goes. And so I followed his advice and I let it flow. I just sat there in my bed and I probably cried, bawled like a little kid for, I’m going to say two minutes. And then it ran its course, I dried up. Then I threw water on my face, I took a shower and started my day with my coffee, and I never had a problem after that.
That’s hard core.
* Dave Davies was filling in for Terri Gross, so I was able to listen without scratching my ears off. Did I mention that I love Fresh Air but hate Terri Gross’ interview style?