Updated: Aug 21, 2021
I love hitting the Jersey Shore during the summer months with my family, and this year was no different, except that it was our first time back to the beach since Covid began. I felt as if the warm sand and cool water missed me by the way they embraced my feet, and at the water’s edge, I found myself entranced by the mesmerizing waves. The crashing surf and incoming tide had a way of bringing me back to reality, and when I looked down the beach, I noticed a little 4-year-old genius who already had one of life’s lessons completely down.
Although I heard his mom call his name numerous times, I still can’t remember it. (I’d like to blame tequila for this brain fog, but I think it’s just the fact that I’ve been alive for more than half a century.) For the sake of this story, I’m giving this boy the name Arthur—which is Aquaman’s real name in the 1950’s comics. (I also considered “Poseidon,” but it seemed a bit too bold for such a young pup.)
Arthur had dirty blond hair seemingly painted onto his head by the salt water and a small frame, but his demeanor was both mighty and strong. He was the epitome of resilience. Here’s what made this little boy so incredible: he stood just a bit inside the water’s edge—knees crouched, elbows bent, fists clenched—and allowed the ginormous, unforgiving waves of the Atlantic to rush upon and literally take him down. The waves didn’t caress him; they wiped him out, drew him into the ocean’s mouth in somersaults, and spit him back toward the beach usually face-first. The first time I saw this, the mother in me started to move toward him to give him a hand, albeit a hand from a stranger, but then I noticed his own mother steps away ready to offer an assist. He didn’t need one. With each wave, I watched this little tyrant jump up, wipe his face off, and get back into position to face the next challenge—even though he never seemed to garner a true victory. He was strong, resolute, and absolutely captivating.
I approached his mom. “Your son is totally amazing. I love watching him. Wouldn’t it be great if all of us handled life that way—the way he takes on the waves—with a sense of adventure, rolling with the punches? Getting up every time?!” She laughed and replied, “I was scared he would hurt himself, but he just seems to love it.”
How awesome is that?! Sure, all kids are daring to some degree, but this little guy jumped up, full throttle, all day long! He was the perfect reminder for me to add some adventure to my days, maybe take a little risk, and get back up when the %$#@ hits the fan!
I looked for this family—this kid—every day of our vacation. I got to know his mom by the water’s edge. She actually had four children, one of whom has a disability. I was taken by the love and kindness that she showered on each one of her children and her ability to allow her kids to take on the mighty waves. By the end of the week, I was hugging her goodbye and offering her gratitude for sharing her family unwittingly and for raising a boy who already, at age four, had the wherewithal to conquer oceans. Maybe we’ll all feel a bit inspired, take a little risk, and dive into each day more fully. Hope to see you at the water’s edge!