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10:33 p.m. 2010-01-21

First time to the beach

Very busy. Stuff arrived, along with about 6 oak trees of packing paper. Very happy about that, but now Iím unpacking, and packing up the extra stuff that was on loan as a place holder. Plus, very busy week at work. Basic job under control, ready for extra stuff, extra stuff starting to pile on.

Not what you tune in for. Not the kind of thing I want to talk about. Hows about this. I kind of almost died on MLK day!

I went to the beach! Atlantic ocean was warm near the equator, trash was not to thick a little ways out of the city, particularly since it was low tide. A day at the beach, reading, playing bocce, life was sweet and easy. There were also wave boards and pretty big waves, and a sand bar. The air wasnít thick with salt like a Florida beach, and it certainly didnít have any high rise hotels dotting the coast line. It reminded me a little bit of Michigan, because the beach really reached out, sand stretching from the edge of the scrubby wood a quarter mile to the tide line.

And a sand bar, big waves churning up sand breaking about 50 yards off the coast. I and a buddy Velcroed the boards to our wrists and went out. This wasnít my friends first trip to this beach, but he had never made it out to the sand bar. Iíve made it out to hundreds of sand bars of the coast of Michigan, body surfed on their breaks, even stood around and thrown Frisbees when they get really shallow. Standing on this sand bar never got my waist out of the water, but the waves were really big.

Bigger than Iíve ever seen on even stormy days on Lake Michigan. Not the mythic waves that you see in surfing movies, but certainly 8 foot swells. Waves that grew to towers and then crashed down. I did get the hang of riding them, my friend didnít, but it is no problem for me to do a little extra swimming to keep the buddy system intact.

We went in, then went back out, and the big waves were even bigger. We headed to the sand bar, and then a monster struck, but we werenít ready to ride just yet, so we let it wash over us. The undertow grabbed us in a way that simply did not exist the first time we were out there. Then another monster hit us, and we were dragged further out to sea in its wake.

Then the waves werenít cresting on us, so no more currents were pulling us farther out to sea. But it was still a few minutes before we realized how far from the sand bar we had been dragged. Now, we both had wave boards attached at our wrists, so we had floatation devices. And we stuck to the buddy system, staying close enough to see each other the entire time we were out there. But.

We werenít running the buddy system to keep watch on each other, we were doing it to be social. And we didnít bring the wave boards to use as floatation devices, we did brought them out for the novelty of trying them because neither of us had ever used them. And maybe I could have swam back in with out the board. And maybe when the undertow was dragging me out, it would have released me back to the surface just as easily if I didnít have that board with me. And maybe without the water toys we never would have gone out there in the first place. But sitting on the board 250 yards out in the Atlantic, watching my friend lightly struggle to get back in, it occurred to me that I we were depending on these boards in ways that we never intended to.

I was not in real danger, but not because I had avoided danger. Slightly different circumstances and I could have been in big trouble.

I hope that isnít a microcosm of what Iím doing here. I think I know what Iím doing, I think I can handle myself. Iíve been in places like this, but none quite the same, none quite this big. Iím aware of many dangers that are around, and I think my life experiences have prepared me to face them. But there is always the danger that Iím missing/underestimating something, and who knows if I will have the tools on hand to keep from being sucked out to sea.

Iím aware that I donít always know how close to the line between danger and fine that Iím living. But I hope I can draw inspiration from one of the great traveling guide books. Donít Panic.

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