Saturday, March 12, 2011

I Remember the Event More Clearly Than I Remember the Lesson

The summer when I was seven was a great summer. That summer we went to the beach two or three times a week. Late in the afternoon my mother would load my brothers and I in the car and we would drive the thirty minutes to the beaches in Galveston. At five when he got off work my father would join us. I am not sure why that summer, but it was a great summer.
One day on our way to the beach we stop at the five and dime. We stayed in the car while my oldest brother went in to make a mysterious purchase. It was only two days before my birthday and I was sure this was all about a present for me.  I was right and unfortunately for my brother the present he was buying was displayed in the window we could see from the parking lot. In those days stores had windows. My brother was buying me a swim mask.
All the way to the beach I argued that I should be allowed to have my present early after all I knew what it was. I would not hear the suggestion that the swim mask was really for the pool and not the ocean. In fact nothing short of them giving in would satisfy me, and eventually they did.
Within minutes of wading into the ocean I was tumbled by a wave that knocked the mask off my face and took it away. I was devastated. I argued and cried that I might be given another mask after all it was not my fault. My birthday and the summer came and went with no new swim mask. I am sure my Mother offered thoughts on several lessons I might learn from this experience. Unfortunately I remember the event more clearly than I remember the lessons.
Yesterday giant waves tumbled inland in Japan taking away everything in their wake. This is an event that will be remembered for generations to come. From it we might learn some things about predicting disasters, improving buildings codes and developing disaster plans but maybe the most important thing we might learn is that; “Life is short and we do not have too much time to gladden the hearts of those who travel  the way with us.”
Some day the tide will come and some day the tide will take it all away.


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