Updated: Mar 12
Mere minutes ago, you had been happily floating in the ocean, your back to the depths below. With the warmth from the sun caressing your suspended limbs, you had been at peace. Yet this bliss hadn’t lasted long; it was only the calm before the storm. Out of nowhere, you had felt yourself being pulled farther from the shore by a force far outmatching your own strength. You had opened your eyes, just in time for a colossal wave to strike you beneath the shallows.
Now, each second feels like a lifetime without air. The salt stings your eyes, but your sole fixation is propelling yourself closer and closer to your next breath. And you make it! Your arm breaks the surface, and you manage to inhale a single time—before another wave beats you down. Thus, the cycle begins.
As another wave hurls you once more into the watery depths, every fiber of your being fights to break the surface of the water. Your fingers stretch upwards, pointed towards a bright sun and the promise of a new day, and your muscles fight like they’ve never before—because you don’t want to give up. You want to grow old and live boldly and freely. You want to eat your favorite food a million more times and listen to your favorite song on repeat and live to see countless more sunrises. You still have so much life left to live.
But there comes a point when your arms begin to tire. Your lungs burn, but your legs grow weary of propelling you towards the sky. What’s the point? You’ll never make it out. And even if you do, you’ll eventually find yourself back underneath the surf, buffeted by wave after unrelenting wave. While everyone else is swimming and paddling above the surface, you’ve sunk. You’ll die here, alone, unnoticed, in the depths of a bottomless ocean. Maybe it’s for the better. After all, you’ve never been a strong swimmer.
“Mom, Dad...I’m drowning, and I need help.”
The signs are all there: your hair is sopping wet, droplets of water have pooled onto the hardwood floor surrounding your feet, and there’s a peculiar look in your eye—the look of a person who knows firsthand what it’s like to lose a fight with an unforgiving sea. You’re tired of losing. You’ll do anything—don a life vest, or an inflatable floatie, or even take private swimming lessons with a licensed instructor. You will do whatever it takes to ensure that you will never end up beneath the surf again. But your cries are unheard.