The ship sank.
I was alone and orphaned, in the middle of the Pacific, hanging on to an oar, an adult tiger in front of me, sharks beneath me, a storm raging about me. Had I considered my prospects in light of reason, I surely would have given up and let go of the oar, hoping that I might drown before being eaten.
The elements allowed me to go on living. The lifeboat did not sink. Richard Parker kept out of sight. The sharks prowled but did not lunge. The waves splashed me but did not pull me off.
I began to weep. My thoughts swung wildly. I was either fixed on practical details of immediate survival or transfixed by pain, weeping silently, my mouth open and my hands at my head.
Without thinking about it, only because it was at hand’s reach and about to sink, I took hold of the net and pulled it aboard, a casual gesture that would turn out to be a lifesaver in many ways; this net would become one of my most precious possessions.