Yesterday we were hanging at the beach with our tribe of bambinos when Alina and I saw this:
A really hot, young lifeguard!
But, alas, the fact that he was young (like really young) and hot is not the point of this story.
This lifeguard was blowing his whistle and waving his hands in the air. We scanned the ocean for the offending swimmer. Naughty Naughty! Someone was out tooooo far! We scanned some more. and some more. A crowd gathered. We all scanned together. We said to each other in hushed tones, "Do you see anything?" The lifeguard continued to blow his whistle, and he was soon joined by another lifeguard who also starting waving and blowing his whistle.
We, the onlookers, were puzzled. We could see NO ONE. There was simply no one out there.
And then we saw it-- a tiny, tiny white speck out at sea. Was that a person? It couldn't be! How the hell did someone get out that far? They had to be at least a mile off shore...
The first lifeguard finally decided it was rescue time. He strapped on his orange buoy thing, ran toward the water and dove into the sea. Go, Lifeguard, Go! We were riveted. He began swimming. He began sighting.
He began taking little rests.
To be honest, he didn't look like he was working very hard. I mean, really. Here's this person way the hell out there and he's taking little breaks??? I told Alina I thought he surely wasn't taking his job seriously. Or was it that he was young and hot--but a weak swimmer? "We should go out and save that person!" I cried. "We could do it! Hell, we were once lifeguards! We are both strong swimmers! Surely we are better than him...".
WonderTwin Powers, activate!
Unfortunately, Alina wasn't too keen on this idea. I believe her reply was, Ummm... no.
Eventually he became a speck in the distance. Would he get to that person way out there? Will he be okay? Then lifeguard #2 got into the action. He got his super long white surfboard and plunged into the ocean after lifeguard number one. Young, hot lifeguards fighting the Atlantic and making the save! He began paddling, and soon he too became just a speck.
We waited--eyes latched onto these boys moving further into the sea.
The surfboard lifeguard made it to the swimming lifeguard, but they were still far from the speck.
Minutes passed. What was going on? Why weren't they continuing onward to save the swimmer?
And then we could just make out the surfboard lifeguard turning and heading for shore.
The swimmer lifeguard followed him, his orange buoy bobbing along behind him.
What the hell? What about the person?
After five minutes the surfboard lifeguard made it to shore. He stumbled in. The crowd swarmed. Alina and I sent Jordan and Maria (ages 7 and 7) over to find out the deal. Get in there! Eavesdrop! Ask that lifeguard what happened! Nothing like having your children get your gossip.
Ten minutes later the first lifeguard swam in. The crowd hushed and parted as he trudged out of the water. And then applause broke out. No victim saved, but applause all the same.
The lifeguard bowed his head. Did he feel pride? Gratitude? Fatigue? Humiliation?
What did this young boy feel when he realized he had swum a mile into the sea to save a a fucking buoy?
Sometimes we miscalculate. Sometimes we have to take a huge risk because we know something huger is at stake, and so we place our possible miscalculations to the side and swim out to sea. It takes a lot of courage to do that.
The miscalculations we make along the way shape us. I have always known these are risks I shouldn't fear. Even if they turn out badly one learns from them, and becomes a more realized person as a result. But for some reason I stopped taking those risk in my thirties. There was too much at stake. I couldn't fuck anything up--or? My stable world would wobble, or crack, or worse, totally fall down.
But we can't live that way forever. If you stop allowing yourself to engage in the struggle of making the save or not, then you experience psychic death, I think. And I did.
So I swam out to sea this year. I rocked my own world. I think I'm probably not as likable as I once was. Certainly I don't look as good on paper.
But at least I'm alive.
I haven't reached the person drowning out there in the ocean yet. But the girl I'm saving isn't a buoy, that I know for sure.