[T]hen all collapsed, and the great shroud of the sea rolled on as it rolled 5,000 years ago.” — Herman Melville, “Moby-Dick,”  or “The Whale.”

Call me BUD/S trainee.  The ocean is my nemesis.  Over time, the water will become my refuge and my security blanket but not in the beginning.  In the beginning, the dark and cold waters are my implacable foe.  Not until I receive my full salt water baptism and walk the ceremony of graduation will I learn to love the sea again.

There exists no circumlocution amongst BUD/S instructors.  They tell us we are going to paddle our small rubber boats out through the rumbling and frothing surf and then paddle them back again straight at a collection of rocks stacked upon the shore.  These are not mere pebbles collected at the shoreline.  No, these are boulders, unmovable in the waves.  A few are cobbles, able to be flung up by the tumultuous waters.

Some among us peer at the instructors through our squinted eyes and see in their visages our futures foretold.  We see nothing less than calamity and brains dashed out upon the rocks alongside our dreams of finishing BUD/S training.  We look upon broken and battered bones and envision our appendages deformed and splintered.  No matter.  We start out anyway as we know this is a part of it.  It is as inevitable as the waves rising up out of the ocean into foaming white masses of roiling thunder made physical.