"From this hour I ordain myself loos'd of limits and imaginary lines, going where I list, my own master total and absolute, Listening to others, considering well what they say, Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating, Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me."
Walt Whitman (1819-92)
"When I look back now over my life and call to mind what I might have had simply for taking and did not take, my heart is like to break."
Akhenaton (d. c.1354 BC)
And now, the current weather, from some random person we pulled off the street:
Friday, January 23, 2004
Dodging the Shark
panic Function: noun
1 : a sudden overpowering fright; especially : a sudden unreasoning terror often accompanied by mass flight
2 : a sudden widespread fright concerning financial affairs that results in a depression of values caused by extreme measures for protection of property (as securities)
3 : the way you act when you step on a live shark bigger than you are
It was Labor Day at Myrtle Beach and I am thinking it was 1977. I had been riding a high all summer long and today was the big blow out before it was all over. Little did I know what the day had in store.
Tomorrow, the place would be deserted. But right now, it was jam packed with people and I was in a feeding frenzy. The heck with tomorrow, I wanted to bounce off the walls all day long as hard as I could.
I think we started the day by adding detergent to the water in the pool so that the fountain/waterfall would suds all up. Then we started tossing people in. Yeah, I know, it was rude, but mostly we tossed each other in.
They asked us to leave the pool. That was a good idea.
That afternoon it was getting overcast and windy. The ocean turned an angry gray and although the waves were pretty good sized, they were choppy. We figured that didn't matter, it was our last chance to get in some surfing that season.
So, out we went.
Now, we were used to dangerous things in the water. We had all had numerous experiences with sharks and jellyfish, including some fairly close calls. And we knew that sharks really liked choppy, murky water, which is what we had. But I figured that with the number of surfers we had out there, we would scare any sharks away. Besides, I was young, naive, and indestructible.
The break was a lot farther out than normal, so I paddled way out past the break line. I just sat there a few minutes watching everyone else try to catch the junk waves that were coming in, and had almost decided that I wasn't even going to try. I decided to get off my board for a couple of minutes, and by standing there kind of judge the power of the waves a bit better.
So, I threw my leg around and plunged in.
The water where I was should have been about neck level.
But about waist level, my feet hit something very solid.
And it moved.
My feet could barely tell that it was curved. This thing was massive. A lot bigger than I was!
It was definitely alive, and when my feet touched it it jerked.
I got back onto my board in about half a second, and while I was yelling at everyone around me to head for shore, I was trying my best to make sure no parts of me were anywhere near the water.
Something had hit my surfboard from underneath, and the power of it had lifted me up about three inches from the water!
I think at this point I had already come to the realization that I was probably going to die. By now, I was screaming at the top of my lungs, "Shark! Shark!" Everyone within a quarter mile was looking at me. Terrified does not begin to describe what I was.
Again, I was picked up and dropped. Now, I was just screaming "Help!" over and over. All of the other surfers were heading for shore as quickly as they could possible move. There was not a lot they could do, I was going to be fish food.
Then it broke water right next to me...
And stood up...
And there was a friend of mine, holding his head and looking dazed.
"Wow, man, I was swimming under you and you stepped on me, and then I came up twice under your surfboard..."
It was no great white, just a great idiot.
After I let my heart rate come back to normal, I forgave him.
I never surfed choppy murky water again, though. Not on your life.
None but a coward dares to boast that he has never known fear.
Ferdinand Foch (1851 - 1929)