Captain Linus took the first and only wave in stride.
It crashed over the bow and drenched him to the bone as we cut through the break.
He held fast to the black handle that we use to carry the kayak and said nothing.
Beyond the surf, the sea squatted on the sand below, rhythmically rocking back and forth, still dark from the suspended particles stirred up by yesterday’s storm.
We stroked far offshore, turned and put the paddles to rest, set ourselves adrift for a gentle ride home, propelled by a lazy ocean.
“I want to go swimming,” Linus exclaimed.
I could tell that he tempered his playful desire with a tinge of uncertainty.
“Are there sharks down there?” he asked.
“Yes, son.” I stared into his demanding eyes. “Sharks don’t like to eat people. It’s okay. You can go.”
He glanced back and forth from the water to me. I met his gaze evenly.
“Sharks can eat people,” he asserted.
“Yes, they can,” I responded. “But they don’t like to—they like fish.”
Fascinated, I watched his budding, 4 year-old mind whir.
“Little fish?” he questioned.
“And big fish, too, sometimes,” I re-affirmed. “They like to eat fish.”
I couldn’t tell whether my words had any impact.
“Sting rays eat people,” he asserted.
“No, they don’t. Sting rays never eat anybody. Sting rays eat seaweed.”
Linus wrestled with himself, adventurous spirit versus cautious soul, a tug-of-war between wonder and fear.
“I want to go in, Dada,” he repeated.
“Jump,” I suggested, in a soft voice.
“There are no sharks down there?” he pleaded.
“Yes, son. There are sharks down there. But they won’t bother you. You’re not a fish.”
For a long while, we floated. The late afternoon sun turned crimson, sent a long streak of speckled gold straight to us across the gulf.
“I want to swim in the sun shadow,” Linus decided.
“Let me turn the boat for you,” I replied, and spun the kayak until the rays lapped up against the shell.
“How about now?” I rubbed my fingers through his hair.
“Keep it right here, Dad,” Linus decreed, very intent.
I smiled at him and shook my head up and down.
He began to climb off and then stopped, unsure.
“You can do it,” I assured him. “It’s okay,” I said once again.
“I want you to hold my hand, Dad,” he requested.
“Sure.” I took his small hand in mine. “I’ve got you.”
He creased his lips in a show of timid bravery, gripped tightly and lowered himself into the dark.
Immediately, he grinned. I could see him kicking like a swan under the surface.
My son, as he so often does, reminded me of a valuable lesson.
Sometimes, to confront our fears, we can all use some encouragement and a helping hand.
Who might you reach out to today?
Whose hand might you accept?
That’s A View From The Ridge…
Best-selling author, Ridgely Goldsborough has written 19 books to date, 5 on emotional intelligence, and has developed a phenomenal program called Partner Attraction Formula that you can get absolutely free as a member of the Groove community. Also, visit Mind Types for a FREE and fun quiz that will give you a new perspective!