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I was a lifeguard for 50 cent per hour, back in the day. My job consisted of working on my tan while I watched idiot kids do stupid things in the water and keep them from drowning their dumb asses. I was expertly cross-trained to flip burgers and make change for candy and generally be a baby-sitter for kids of "members".

It didn't matter to the management that I didn't have anything past Advanced Swimmer in Red Cross lessons...hell I was afraid to even jump off the board to the instructor treading water below me. I just never trusted 'em to catch me. Ya know?

I suppose that's the whole point of learning to swim. When you get dumped into the cold water or actually find the courage to jump, you damn well better know how to get back up to the surface and get some O2. I was entrusted with lives when I had never even officially learned the correct lifesaving moves to keep them safe. I was just a kid myself. If one of them had grabbed ahold of my neck in panic , we'd have both gone under.

Lifeguarding is a vocation forever. Sometimes you see someone thrashing in the water, gasping for breath and you think you're ten feet tall and bulletproof. Gonna be a hero and save the day. Truth time comes when you feel that it's you or them going down for the third time, and you choose yourself. What good is a dead lifeguard?

It's a delicate balance, this thing of saving souls and lives. Sometimes love and courage simply aren't enough to save the day, without grace. Prevenient grace, like what I've been blessed with. Nobody has ever intentionally hurt me, to my knowledge. If they did, I write it off to personal pain and unresolved issues of their own. Painful stuff has happened with me as a witness and a player in the game of life, and I count myself fortunate to have been there, tears and all.

Gratitude. It's the end result of eons of whining and pity parties and self flagellation. It begins with anger and ends with a whimper and an outstretched hand, reaching toward another who wants to experience the joy and peace of self-responsibility.

I chatted with a co-worker today about being "emotionally abandoned" in our younger years. In reality, my parents gave me the very best of what they had been given and it turned out much better for all of us in the next generation, with a lifetime in paradise as a bonus.

I'm sure that my daughter has felt emotionally abandoned in her lifetime. But I know that I did my best, and she's on homeplate now. Faith 1-Babygirl1. Tie game.

Batter up.
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