It was early Saturday morning at the shore. Long before the lifeguards would drive up in their Jeeps to sit sentinel atop their wooden stands and a few hours before the beach would be polka dotted by cheerful umbrellas. It was the peaceful time before my town begins to feel less like home and more like a tourist’s paradise. Mike and I shared a towel and lazily watched as my brother and his son went for a swim. We shaded our eyes as the sun continued its ascent above the tide and the day grew brighter. Now and then I could hear my nephew’s shouts and my brother’s answers on the gentle breeze blowing in off the ocean. They were jumping waves. My brother would grab hold of Daniel’s hands and they would leap just in time to be swept up and over the foamy white crests. Their laughter mingled and rode the waves all the way back to the shore where Mike and I sat.
As we watched, I was reminded of a time not too long ago, when my dad would bring me down to the shore after work. Long after the lifeguards had taken down their flags and driven off in their Jeeps and a few hours after everyone had packed their things and headed home for dinner. It was the peaceful time when my home regained the simplicity of a tiny seashore town and lost the glow of a tourist’s paradise. And we would jump the waves. I quickly learned that not all waves can be surmounted. Some arrive too quickly or are too large to be jumped, and instead you must dive right through them. You have to take a deep, brave, breath and become one with the wave. Become one with the power, the surge that threatens to carry you off and trust that you will come out safe and sound on the other side. And still others, well others, they knock you down. When you get caught in limbo, unsure of whether to jump or dive, the wave arrives anyway. It robs you of your breath, leaves your eyes stinging with salt and your hair peppered with sand. And at those moments, when all you want to do is cry, you have to laugh. Laugh and get ready for the next wave that will inevitably come your way.
As I sat and watched my brother teach his son the same lessons my dad taught us I felt a calmness wash over me. Because really, of all the things I have learned in my life, this is one of the greatest. Jump, Dive, Get Knocked Down, but keep smiling and laughing through it all. And as I thought about this inevitable truth learned through the natural lesson of swimming with my dad, I did what any grown woman would do. I grabbed Mike’s hand and ran into the ocean. And together, we jumped the waves.
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