I was sitting on the lifeguard chair at work during a shift and I was watching everyone swim. There was this one man maybe thirty-something with a large seriousness about him swimming laps at first until he started twisting and spinning in the deep end. He wasn’t drowning or in distress in any way but I continued to watch him–he was playing. I had seen this man swim in the pool many times before but he had always maintained a certain sense of seriousness about him that made him very unapproachable. Whenever he came in he would simply swim his laps and be on his way but today…today was different. Today he started off like he always had: swimming down to the deep end and then back to the shallow, deep to shallow, deep to shallow but then he began to have fun. He didn’t even care that I was watching him, or might not have even noticed. The highlight of the moment for me was when he held a kickboard out in front of him and started pushing it away and swimming towards it, and then pushing it away and swimming towards it and then putting weight onto the kickboard and submerged it. I had watched him do this a couple times and I knew what he was thinking because I had seen hundreds of kids do this as their first instinct during free swim when there was a kickboard involved. And then finally, he stood on top of the kickboard and looked sideways to the wall and instantly shut out the rest of the world because it was in that moment where he was transported to some far off beach where the surf was just right, where the people were friendly, and where his problems were left tucked in a folder thousands of miles away. He had brought back his playfulness and imagination. He was surfing on the ocean in the middle of a public pool standing on top of a kickboard and I was cheering him on from a guard chair a few feet away as his only spectator.
It was then that I began thinking of how I should approach my life. The idea of time wasted and preparing for the inevitable had already been on my mind due to a video I had to watch in my philosophy class this morning about the ethics behind the death with dignity law. The video ended with a woman–which the documentary had followed through her treatment and decisions after being diagnosed with a terminal form of cancer–take a lethal dosage of seconal which ended her life…on camera…I called my mother as soon as I got out of class because I was not in a good place but needless to say that my future was on my mind. And after seeing the video and the man in the pool rediscover his childhood I made a list right there in my head.
I said, Adam–you need to get out of here, you need to travel, you need to see places and do things and help people and this is how you’re going to do it.
1. You’re going to write; but you’re going to write well and not necessarily everything that comes into your head.
2. You’re going to go to:
-The Bahamas and other islands (which I now want to visit severely because of my friend Morgan)
3. You’re going to experience all of their food and the culture and you’re not going to leave these places until you do.
4. You’re going to share your journey and your experiences with the people who you meet
5. You’re going to educate and lead and love and learn and never forget who you are and what you want to do in life.
6. You’re not going to give up on yourself because of something being too hard or something costing too much money–you’ll find a way.
7. You will remember the importance of the people around you and you will not lose sight or direction.
So let today be my first day as each day soon will follow. I don’t know when I will achieve these things or see these places but I will. And knowing that is enough for now.