This I Believe

Alex - La Grange, Illinois
Entered on March 1, 2009
Age Group: Under 18

I have never been a cautious person. Even though I can be logical and intelligent, I do not have the best foresight. Often excitement dulls my foresight even further and overpowers my sense of caution. This past summer on an exciting sailing trip in the British Virgin Islands, I displayed a huge lack of caution.

We had moored near the coast of Virgin Gorda and were preparing to go snorkeling. I pulled on my swimsuit and rash shirt, and then climbed up on deck. I put on my mask and fins and checked that they were on right. Then I smeared sun screen over any exposed skin to avoid getting burnt. Even with all that preparation, something could easily go wrong.

Once my partner, Jim, was ready, we waddled to the edge of the boat, took a glance towards the water and jumped in one after the other. We resurfaced, put our snorkels in our mouths and put our heads underwater. By that time the current had pulled us about five feet away from the boat. We looked around and saw a group of jellyfish not that far from us or the boat. At first it didn’t look too bad, but then even more of them drifted towards us materializing out of nowhere right before my eyes, and soon there was no way we could avoid them. When we saw how many jellies there were, we started swimming as fast as we could back toward the boat. We arrived at the boat without running into any more jellies and both of us relaxed. We yelled up to everyone else on the boat that there were jellyfish and they dropped the ladder down for us. Jim started climbing the ladder back up into the boat while I waited in the water for him to take off his fins and get all the way on deck. While I was floating there, I noticed that the jellies were getting closer and closer to me. Then I realized that the current that had moved us was pushing the jellies directly toward me. I yelled at my friend to hurry up as the jellyfish were closing in. They were no more than three feet away and surrounding me on all sides when Jim finally got up on the deck. I pulled myself up the ladder and watched as the jellyfish floated into the space I had occupied only moments before. I kicked off my fins and scrambled up on deck, glad I had escaped the forest of jellyfish.

As a result of this close call, I believe that foresight and caution are as or more important than joy and spontaneity. While impulsiveness was a big part of who I was, from now on I will truly look before I leap.