As a 10-year old, I studied waves as if my life depended on it.
I knew little about life’s ups and downs.
I knew even less about life’s highs and lows.
But I knew life and waves were dangerous.
So for hours I rode on, over and under Miami Beach’s crashing waves.
Thrilled to be fighting mother nature.
Fearing child-eating sharks.
Fighting undertows sucking me down to the ocean’s floor.
Fearing my lungs being filled with sea water.
Fighting to be socially distant from the Portuguese man-of-war.
Fearing these clear blue-bubbled monsters with their long trailing stinging tentacles.
Remembering their venomous stings causing red welts on my butt which hardened, swelled and burned.
As a 10-year old, I possessed a raft and a passion for risk taking.
A raft I bought for a dollar at the sundries store on the west side of Collins.
A raft I filled with all of my breath until I felt the bottom of my lungs.
A raft I laid on while grasping the ribboned edges as waves pounded my body.
Waves that created eye-burning salty mists.
Waves that caused me to swallow mouthfuls of the sea.
Waves that pulled and pushed me so violently I feared being swept into the Atlantic.
But with my limited strength, I managed to keep the raft within one hundred feet of the shore.
Watching each approaching wave to determined how to catch its white crest while scanning the beach for my safe harbor—the Colonial Inn Motel.
As a 13-year old, I collected railroad spikes.
Hiking on the abandoned tracks of the B&O Railroad, I found spikes laying next to the rails.
Rusted iron spikes— partially covered in gravel— rested next to the dilapidated tracks.
I picked up these railroad souvenirs, sanded them, painted them and made them into paper weights.
The spikes landed on the same desk where I studied linear and bar graphs and pie charts.
Learning about trends, patterns and relationships.
Learning about how to make predictions and control risks.
Today, I hold my cold golden spike as I watch CNN and see:
Waves cresting to new heights.
Daily spikes of death;
Weekly spikes in hospitalizations;
And monthly spikes in diagnosed cases.
Spikes pointing toward a new wave.
And again I feared being swept away.
But at this ripe old age, I realized that, “Life consists of a series of spikes and waves:
Waves of love;
Oceans of passion;
And seas of sorrow.
And that I hold the power to control the length and girth of my spikes and waves.
This much I know is true.