Sharks in the Water

Recently I saw someone post on social media a picture of a lot of people in the ocean. It was a beautiful day, the water looked clear, the people looked like they were having a good time, but the post was mocking them.

There had been a shark attack at that same beach a week before. It was serious, and three people got hurt. I know, because I live in the area.

I’ll paraphrase, but the person doing the post was incredulous. They were wondering how people could get in and swim at that beach, at that time, with the shark attacks a week ago. While it’s hard to get a tone from a post, the feeling I got was that the person doing the posting thought all the people were not the brightest, at best.

It was funny to me that a week later that person was sending pictures of them out on the water. Out in the water. Splashing around and having a great time.

I wonder if they stopped and thought why they felt safe to get in. Why they thought it was okay for them, when they had mocked those previously.

It’s not like there’s sonar equipment that can scan the entire ocean, pinpoint all the sharks, and send alerts when they close into the beach. It’s not like there’s a specific amount of time that’s required after seeing a shark to know that it’s moved on. And it wasn’t like they caught the sharks from the first attack, anyway.

The only reason that person felt safe, I suppose, is that someone else took the first step. The first swim. Someone, at some point, took the risk and got into the water. After that person got in, more felt comfortable, more got in, until we got to the point where a crowd was in the water and there were posts on the internet about how silly those people were. Only after seeing that could that person realize that it was safe again, as safe as it ever was going to be, and then they got in.

The thing is, there are always sharks in the water. In every facet of life. There is no way to protect us from everything. There is no scientific tool that can scan all dangers everywhere, there’s no piece of medical equipment that can bring us all back from death, there’s no bubble where we can rest safely from anything that can happen to us.

The reason we feel safe, always, is that someone else takes the risk. Someone takes the first step. Someone accepts the fact that life isn’t fair, that the world is dangerous, that nothing can be fully controlled, that as much as we can do to minimize danger, sheer bad luck can just happen. An anvil can fall out of a sky. A car can run off the road. A shark can swim up out of the gulf.

Where am I going with this? I’m not sure. I think it’s okay to be fearful. To have fear. To have fear to to understand what is required to have true courage. But it’s also okay for people to take risks. To be the first in the water. To do what others might view as the dumb thing. Because without them, we all might still be on the beach, staring at the water, wondering if it’s safe to get in.







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