I am a Cynical Old Woman

Yes, it’s true I am a cynical old woman.

Yesterday, I was reading a thread on Facebook, in a group Fernandina Surfers. It was addressing the issues of lifeguarding, in the time of pandemic. However, it touched a nerve in me, that was yet, another one of those issues of aging.

The word that set me off in their dialogue was “enforcement”. I dislike enforcement, therefore, according to the dictionary, I am cynical.

I made the simple comment, of having mixed feelings, concerning lifeguards. Some, white haired, old man named Bert, called me a cynical old woman. I know lifeguards have their place, but that’s part of the problem. I don’t want a sixteen year old, with braces, telling me where and how to swim. They will look at me and my grey hair and think I shouldn’t go out deeper than my waist.

Reading the comments, on the thread, my mind reflected on vivid memories, of being a child and swimming, in the ocean. I would bend my knees and duck under the waves. I would feel it pass over me. I learned about the rhythm of the sea. I was taught about run outs, and how to deal with them. I swam far out beyond the breakers. I swam every day all day long, only stopping for lunch, a rest, and then back out until the sun went down.

No lifeguard. – I would not have been allowed.

I swam in the salt springs of Florida. They were freezing. I would dive and check out the caves; my mother put a permanent fear mark, of caves, in the depths of my being. The same as the currents in rivers. The St. John’s River will swallow you whole, and only a fool would ski there. After civilization moved in, I was whistled at and removed from an area by security, because of alligators. I have swam, in that spring since 1960. I’m sure alligators were there before then, as they are now. It’s Florida!

Lifeguards – thank you – I have not and never will return to that Spring. I leave it to the tourists.

We had a pool, in our back yard. My mother taught me to swim. I can remember her teaching me to float. I once fell in, cleaning the tile, and had to be rescued. I was probably four.

I surfed a break in Costa Rica, Playa Negra, before the onslaught of tourism. I fell in a strategic spot of the wave, placing me in the line of fire, of the next oncoming surfer. My leash had broke, so I decided to swim at an angle to the right, “out of the way”, and then I would angle back to the left. My plan placed me in rocks. You do not want to be in rocks, in the ocean. They create a sucking motion, that can become impossible to get out of. I floated and stared at the sky and thought it would be a beautiful place to die. People were on the beach watching me. And, of course, surfers aren’t going to stop to help, when the waves are firing. Finally, someone paddled over and threw me their leash and helped me in.

No lifeguard – just a helping hand.

If I had died there, I just would have died there.

The stories go on and on. Stories of rescue. Less help from others and more of assistance. I have saved one person from drowning. I have been with my husband, who has rescued probably seven people. One who’s head was injured in the rocks, and he did not make it.

We were the lifeguards.

I do not swim where I am “enforced”.

I realize some folks need that. And some will forever be crippled by today’s energy of fear and control, on the land, and in the water.

I have no desire to live or die under the credence of “social norms”.

It’s just not in me.

I will be buried at sea.

No lifeguards – other than my friends, that are everyday protectors. Ones that will risk their life for you. It’s part of learning to swim. – Or I should say it was for me.

So, to the old man, that called me a cynical old woman. I don’t mind.

I’m feral too!

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