Monday, December 01, 2008

Coming up for Air

Ever watched a child struggling to come up for air in a pool? Ever just sat there and watched them struggling, hoping that they make it? Ever wondered how long they could go before they went under? Ok....that's gross. But think about the concept of drowning. The concept of the struggle to keep from going under. The more you struggle, it seems the more you flail helplessly. When in reality, if you just pressed your hands overhead and propelled yourself down to the floor of the pool, you'd find you could jump off the floor of the pool and shoot skyward.......and breathe! At least that's what I always thought. I was comfortable in the water from early on. I almost did drown in San Diego at a hotel near Disneyland in like 1971. I remember going in, (throwing a toy to my big sister) and I remember going down to the bottom of the pool. I never remember being scared. I remember the lost screams going out underwater when my dad grabbed my by my hair and pulled me out. Now that I was scared of.

I seem to remember a lot of weird moments like that. I'm sure that when we speak with each other, we are speaking to a 58, 64, or a 35-year-old child: the five-year-old in all of us.

Ever watched a child struggle with anything, hoping you could help? I watch a loved one wither away. They come up for air every now and then, and we get to speak with the loved one. But for now, when I see this person, I see the cute little four-year-old in them. I see that child, struggling just to survive. When they do come up, it's not just a breath of fresh air for them, it is for us too a gasp of relief. Now, there is no ruling out a miracle, Lord knows I made it out of that cesspool I used to drink from every night, but it seems a forgone conclusion that all the special moments in the world with this loved relative are drowning with them in their struggle.

If you are a person who is struggling with an addiction let me tell you this: Even if it's a small addiction, come clean every now and then; dry out for just one day. Go talk with your family then. It's the best gift you can give them if you seem hell-bent on taking yourself down a path of self-destruction. We can't ask for much, and you can't be expected to give much.

If you're the person who is watching a person struggle with a destructive habit, tell them to come up for air every now and then. Tell them what that means. If you can't tell them, just relish every story you hear, that tells of when they came up for air. Cheer them on. They need it. And start to remember the stories, the good ones, their family will appreciate you for that when that time comes.

Now if you're the kind of person who likes to look over cliffs with no fear, let me tell you about the time I literally was beginning to fall over a 90-foot cliff at Ohanepecosh campground on Mount Raineer and my dad, once again grabbed me by my hair as my feet dangled in thin that was scary! There's no feeling of being alive, like knowing you could die! I have certainly learned the feeling of being alive in my scary lifetime.

Ok, I didn't lie, the now 75-foot cliff was 90 feet when I was a kid.

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