I Believe in the Lessons of the Sea

Rob - Bonney Lake, Washington
Entered on March 31, 2009
Age Group: 50 - 65
Themes: family, nature
  • Listen to This I Believe on RadioPublic

  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

This I Believe

I love the ocean. Once I lived for a year inland, way inland, in New Mexico. The sea was an impossible distance away. While I loved the scenery and the high desert’s beauty, I didn’t like not hearing the surf or seeing the vast extremes of water going to the horizon. Most of my life has been lived on the coast, and the love of the sea probably came from my father, who scuba dived and sailed boats he built himself.

When I was thirteen my father drove us on a trip around the continental United States. When we arrived in Florida, he couldn’t help driving us to the beach and taking us in the water with him. I remember how warm the water of the Caribbean was, and how white the sand. My father had bought my brother and I fins, snorkels and masks so we could go with him to see the colors of the coral and fish in the warm Florida waters.

Larry, my brother, was a year and a half older than I, but neither of us were particularly strong or accomplished snorkelers. We had a pool at home where we’d spent countless hours swimming, however, so we could swim well. That day we spent time out in the water, enjoying ourselves, and totally unaware of the disaster building for us as we did so. You see, the back tide had begun to carry us out to sea without our realizing it. When we did, it was too late. The incredible strength of the tide was way too much for either of us. If it succeeded and we were swept out to sea, we would probably drown.

Suddenly we both felt powerful arms encircle us and a strong force begin to carry us towards the shore. It was my father, using his swim fins, his strength and his mighty determination to save his sons lives. He swam very hard, we tried to help, and after some time we managed to stagger to the shore and collapse in the sand. At the time I didn’t realize just how close we had come to death. My Dad had, and the relief in his eyes only years later did I understand.

When I visit the ocean, I look at the crashing surf and the powerful waves rolling out to the horizon and I remember my father. He taught me that life can be unpredictable and dangerous, but also that determination and courage can win out over it. I believe in the lessons of the sea, and a father’s love.