Carnival is a visually compelling experience. Tens of thousands of
people march through the streets in surreal costumes creating enough
memories to last two lifetimes. Carnival is impossible to explain with
words. Although words help, it must be seen to be understood.
Carnival speaks the language of the mind. It's all about powerful
images full of stunning colors burning themselves into your
memory. If glitter is good, then carnival must be the best thing
that ever happened on planet earth, because it's full of glitter and glitz..
The costume in the above picture is more than twenty feet tall and at least
twenty-five feet wide. Costume designers must limit the size of their
regalia so it clears overhead electrical cables as revelers dance in the
The skull and bones theme of this design is indelibly imprinted in my
memory. I will be able to recall it to my dying day. This monster of the
mind doesn't frighten me, but it's the kind of thing that nightmares are
made of in children.
Monsters of the mind aren't your friend when you're offshore fighting for
survival in stormy seas. In all my years at sea, I never had to deal
with mental monsters, because I'm careful about what I allow into my mind.
I've learned to carefully manage potential monsters. I don't put anything into my mind that
could come back to haunt me while I am at sea.
A good example of this is a movie called The Perfect Storm.
I didn't watch the movie, because I didn't want to have
those images in my consciousness. Dozens of people have told me they could
never go to sea after watching that movie. Just looking at a boat brings images of The Perfect
Storm into their mind. They visualize giant killer waves sweeping
over their vessel and fear keeps them immobilized on land where they feel safe.
It would have been hard to sail around the world if I had a storm phobia
blowing through the corridors of my mind. I've only been in a couple
of storms with winds in excess of forty knots, and I never experienced fear,
because I didn't have any mental monsters blowing the winds out of proportion.
When the wind comes up, and the seas become unruly, and
a storm starts to take its toll on the crew, it's the storm of thoughts
that causes problems. You can usually
deal with the wind and waves without too much difficulty. But mounting
exhaustion aggravates and augments waves of fear, and if fear takes control, a
manageable problem can degenerate into something frankly
dangerous. I can't speak for other people, but for me there's no
question that when I'm exhausted in the middle of a storm, I don't want to
have images of the perfect storm flashing in my mind.
Those images could become mental monsters that compromise my judgment,
and put my ship and crew at unnecessary risk.
What I put in my mind is important, because I am the captain of Exit Only, and
my crew trusts me and depends on my judgment. That means I should never
do anything that could compromise my judgment under duress. I never
allow things in my mind that could become a mental monster during a storm at
I sailed around the world for eleven years on Exit Only, and I never found
any sea monsters or monster seas rising up to haunt me. Although I'll happily look at carnival monsters
by the dozens, there's no room for The Perfect Storm in my memory
banks. When the wind is blowing fifty knots, you'll not find the
perfect storm howling in my mind.