Posts

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Fate of The Union [Updated with Video]

A spoken word poem about the current state of our nation.

This post is part of my 30 day creative writing challenge. Click here to learn more about the challenge or explore the other posts in this series.

I wanted to say a couple words about the current state of our nation.
It’s like every time I turn around, another level of frustration.

Inadequacy seems to be, the new definition of the word succeed.
From the economy to education, political correctness, the justification.

Republicans and democrats, Always fighting to get it right.
Because politicians want us to see, that they are smarter than you and me.

You and I? We’re supposed to be dumb.
Here, have some entertainment, now doesn’t that look fun!

But the truth is, that this has nothing to do with Washington, D.C.
And everything to do with you and me.

We watch in awe, as it all starts to fall.
And instead of walking forward, we all start to crawl.

Backwards in time.
Still trying to avoid the same social land mines.

Haters and racists.
Disorderly conduct on a regular basis.

A tool of the the trade as they try to persuade.
An ignorant public they constantly degrade.

Ignorance abounds.
Common sense? Nowhere to be found!
Take a deep breath
We’re all about to drown

About to go down, All just standing around
Watching as our souls are pounded into the ground

Our freedom?
No longer to be found!

So how can we expect to survive for much longer at this rate?
How can we be expect to thrive on this much hate?

How are we supposed to understand with all the lies in this debate?
How much time can go by before its too late?

How many more must die before its a sealed fate?
And how much more can we handle on this here plate?

You see this has to stop
From the bottom to the top, we must not delay

We must no longer let them make us feel this way
And we can’t let it go for even one more day

We must push to be better
We must not blindly follow the next trend setter

We must be slow to anger
And say hi to a stranger

We must learn and share
And become consciously aware

Connected as a country
Not lost in despair

Pretending the problems are only theirs
But there is here

And trouble is near
You see it’s almost time for us to face our fears

So its up to you, and it’s up to me
To reach out together, as a powerful we

So, I ask you my friend
What will it be?
Will you do nothing?
Or will you stand with me?

 

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Will I Ever Have To Teach My Kids How To Drive?

A short video that explores the idea that in the near future, we may no longer have to teach our children how to drive.

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The Best Sandwich in Sarasota?

If you’ve not eaten at Mozzarella Fellas, downtown Sarasota, you’re missing out on the best sandwich in Sarasota. Oh, and other stuff too.

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What if I Told You?

A short poem about the fear of falling in love.

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Why I’m Supporting A Gay Rights/Equality Event

If you had asked me a few years back to attend the Annual Harvey Milk Festival, I would have looked at you a little weird. I would have told you that I think homosexuality is unnatural and that I wouldn’t be attending because I did not agree with the lifestyle.

Watch a short video from the most recent Harvey Milk Festival. Courtesy of Sarasota Underground.

I might have referenced a gay person that I was somewhat familiar with and claimed to not have a problem with their sexual preference, but deep down, there was a piece of my brain that made me feel really uncomfortable with the idea of homosexuality. The part of me that society has trained to feel that way, the part that hates the thought of two members of the same sex finding happiness inside of an intimate relationship with one another.

But that part of me is dying fast. And I can’t tell you that it is gone completely or that it ever will, but I have a whole new perspective on many things in life. And the amount of fucks I give about how people decide to explore their sexuality is quickly fading.

And honestly, what kind of world are we living in, where the things that happen in the privacy of of our own bedrooms, among two consenting adults, is anyone’s business other than that of the people who are in the room doing it. And more importantly, who the hell am I to tell anyone, where, when or how they should play with their private parts.

“But homosexuality is immoral and wrong!” Said some religious reader somewhere!

Oh yeah, says who? The bible? Your church? Your government?

Related article: Is everything you know about religion wrong?

Who the heck are they? And why have we let them into the most intimate parts of our private lives? Are we so incapable of ruling ourselves that we have deferred every one of our decisions to the approval of others?

Are we not just people living inside of small communities? Are we not all human? Do we not still preserve the right to think and act on our own? Have we lost the ability to mind our own business? Have we stopped managing our own lives and shifted towards the idea of collectively managing the lives of others, and in turn, lost control of everything?

And what kind of world are we building for our children? One where we are still free to think and act on our own? Or one that is managed by mandate? A world where our decisions are dictated to us? One that leaves us always worried about the opinions of someone else. Always letting someone tell us what to do, what to say, and how to say it.

So you see, I may not support the entire LGBTQ movement, but I wholeheartedly support my gay friends. I support their right to believe in whatever they believe in. I support their right to gather, and celebrate and have sex with whoever they want… As long as it’s not with me.

Because what right do I have to claim free speech, if I am not willing to support those who speak freely?

What right do I have to talk about liberty if those are around me are not encouraged to live freely. And what right do I have to tell you, or anyone for that matter, how to live your life?

Because that is equality.

Because that is the level playing field that America was supposed to be. Not this doctored up version of democracy that is starting to feel more and more like fascism.

So I am supporting the Harvey Milk Festival and my friends who help pull it off every year. With my words and with my wallet, and I would ask you to consider doing the same. Mostly because they need it, but more importantly, because America needs more people who are willing to stand up for what they believe in, even if that means defending someone else’s right to do something you might not completely agree with.

 

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God Sent Me To Piss The World Off

People get so offended when you challenge their thought process. Me? I live for it.

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Am I Analog Dating in A Digital World?

How to date when you cant relate. An open exploration of our current dating paradigm.

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Is Everything You Know About Religion Wrong?

Your god is not real. I know because he told me!

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Standing Naked In A Crowd

An introspective look at the desire to fit in and the freedom that comes from being yourself.

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Learning to Let Go

My heart breaks, my body shakes and when I try to tell you, my voice quakes….

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The Game We All Pretend Not To Play

This post is part of my 30 day creative writing challenge. Click here to learn more about the challenge or here to explore the other posts in this series.

Image credit

You walk by and see a glimmer of your reflection on the side of a building You still look good. But who’s keeping score?

You are, that’s who. That’s right, I know you are. We all do. We all judge one another based on first impressions or superficialities. We all walk around with this idea of who each of us is supposed to be, but so often, we don’t even know ourselves.

Looking when we can, fighting for a glimpse of the person we think we could become. Hoping that the world will one day see us as who we might be, not as who we actually are. Hoping that they will believe the person we pretend to be.

But then the facade cracks.

The cloak of cowardice that you have been hiding under will be lifted to expose the real you. But the real you is not strong. The real you has not thought that far ahead. The real you has been too busy pretending to prepare.

Pretending not to be flawed. Presenting perfection to the public in order to bask in the glory of popularity. Hiding under your make up and materialism. Hiding the emptiness that has consumed your existence.

But this game will end. And when it does you will know true loneliness, because your entire existence has been built on the pretense of prosperity. Because you have not learned how to handle the hurt. You have just learned how to hide from it.

If you enjoyed this post, please share it with a friend. It’s the best compliment you could ever give me.

This post is part of my 30 day creative writing challenge. Click here to learn more about the challenge or here to explore the other posts in this series.

 

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Stealing Inspiration: The Truth About Picasso’s Famous Quote.

This post is part of my 30 day creative writing challenge. Click here to learn more about the challenge or here to explore the other posts in this series.

“Good artists borrow, great artists steal.”

Pablo Picasso said that… or did he?

Highlight any text in this article to share it directly.

Supposedly this is a Picasso quote, but this article claims otherwise, and gives us an interesting perspective on what that quote actually means.

As an artist, I have heard this quote many times over the years. I have also heard people discussing its true definition, often with the wrong connotations.

Many people take it as permission to plagiarize or directly steal someones work, but that’s taking the quote completely out of context from the creative mind. In reality, what the quote is intended to portray, is that a great artist steals inspiration, not the work itself. A great artists will see something of beauty, and then understand how to make it more beautiful by adding a piece of themselves to it.

A lesser artist will attempt to accurately copy the existing art, and in the process create a lesser quality knockoff. This can be the only result, because there is nothing to gain from copying something that is already in existence. It just becomes something to do.

There is no innovation or creative process involved in passing someones work off as your own, but to see something of value and then make it yours… That is the sign of true creative genius.

A great artist will find inspiration in everything around them and steal that inspiration to make it the foundation for their art. This is why artists, musicians, writers etc, always need a muse. They need something to move them emotionally. Something from which they can steal inspiration in order to do their best work.

The great artists see the world around them as a vision board. As a concept for what they might create, limited only by the boundaries of their creative brains. The great artist steals from everything they see. From all of their experiences and all of their interactions. We steal inspiration from everywhere we can because we ourselves are inspired.

Inspired to create. Inspired to build. Inspired to change. Ourselves and the world around us.

So the next time you find yourself in a creative slump, just take a look around. There is beauty all around you from which to steal. There is plenty of inspiration to go around and always remember that the sign of a true artist is their ability to steal something and then make it unique. To make something that is the same, but different.

Because there is no real originality. There is only continual duplication. So it is necessary to steal. But only the inspiration behind the work. Not the work itself.

So, if you find yourself stealing directly from someones work, then maybe that means that you are not the great artist you thought you were.

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Thankfully I’m Not Planning A Funeral, But…

Why is it that something like this to happen before we do the things we know we should be doing all along?

This post is part of my 30 day creative writing challenge. Click here to learn more about the challenge or here to explore the other posts in this series.

Today my heart is heavy. The thought that I should be making funeral arrangements keeps running through my mind. You see, I got a text yesterday letting me know that my dad had been in a motorcycle accident. And usually, a message like that is followed by really bad news.

But the worst of his injuries, as far as we can tell right now, are a broken leg, heavy bruising and some serious road rash. We just got back from the hospital, and don’t get me wrong, I am really happy that the injuries were not more severe, but I can’t help but think about how different this weekend could have been.

As I sit here and write my thought for the day, I can’t help to think about the possibility of life without my dad. Then I start getting mad at myself for being such a shitty son. How come I don’t call more, or visit more often? Why is it that something like this to happen before we do the things we know we should be doing all along?

He only lives four hours away and it took something like this for me to come visit. That’s the only thing going through my head right now. Mixed emotions and the thought that it easily could have been worse.

What if I wasn’t just coming to help him get around a bit while he gets used to walking around on crutches? What if I was here to handle funeral arrangements. What if I was here to see my dad for the last time?

I’m going to try and think about something else now. To not have those thoughts running through my head, but it is hard to push them from my mind. But as I push those thoughts from my mind, I wonder if anything will actually change moving forward.

Sure I’ll have this experience to remind me how much I love my family and how much I often take them for granted, but I have a sneaky suspicion that pretty soon, things will go right back to the way they were. I’ll head back home. His leg will heal. And the void in our relationship will return. We’ll go weeks without talking, I wont come visit and I’ll hate myself while doing it.

But maybe not. Maybe this is what we needed to remember how much we really matter to each other. Maybe we will find a way to make more time for each other moving forward. Or maybe, next time, I won’t be so lucky. Maybe the next call I get will be something more severe. And I will have to spend the rest of my life thinking about how I could have done something different. How I could have loved him more. And that is a pretty scary thought.

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Well Laid Plans

Mike Tyson once said “Everyone has a plan, until they get punched in the face.”

And life has a way of punching us when we least expect it.

This post is part of my 30 day creative writing challenge. Click here to learn more about the challenge or here to explore the other posts in this series.

There’s nothing like getting a group text in the middle of the day to let you know that your dad has been in an accident and is laid up in a hospital. Turns out he was riding his motorcycle on I-95 in Miami when he was struck by another vehicle and flung from the bike. Luckily it was stop and go traffic on the highway so he was not hit while going full speed.

First reports indicate that the only major damage is a broken leg and some bad road rash. Maybe a busted up bike and a sore ego to go along with it all as well.

It wasn’t too long ago that I got a call from my best friends girlfriend. My brother from another mother had been thrown off of his motorcycle that morning. But he would not be as lucky as my dad had been today. He was going full speed when he was flung from his bike. He shattered his pelvis and both wrists. It was a miracle he survived.

Both of these are freakish moments which could have dramatically changed my life. So close having two of the most important people in my life permanently removed from the population. But nope, not this time. And hopefully not any time soon.

I’ve not had to deal with death very often in my life. There was one difficult death in my past, but most of the death in my life has been relatives that I was not very close with, so the pain was not devastating. Even though part of me wishes it had hurt more. Part of me wishes that I was not so estranged from my extended family so that those deaths would have meant more to me.

But today we are not talking about death. We are talking about life.

The news I got today, although initially upsetting, is actually good news. It means that right now I am writing this thought as I head out to go see my dad. Alive.

I could just as easily be going down to handle funeral arrangements, and that would suck. And as cliche as it sounds, that should remind us that there is no guarantee of anything in this life. There may not be a tomorrow, or even a tonight. There is no promise that this moment is not your last. So make sure you do something today that matters.

Make sure you make the most of whatever moments you do have because no matter how well laid your plans may be, there is always the rest of the world to deal with. And that means complete chaos is always an option.

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A Family of Friends

If I shared this article with you directly it’s because you are part of my family of friends. Please take a moment to read it and then share it directly with those who are in your family of friends.

This post is part of my 30 day creative writing challenge. Click here to learn more about the challenge or here to explore the other posts in this series.

I don’t come from a big family, so over the years my friends have become my family.

In some ways that family is more important to me than the one I was born into. I mean… I don’t want to diminish the strength of blood relationships but that is not what this post is about.

This story is about the few people we encounter through the course of our lives, that make us feel as if we were meant to meet. Those people from whom you are incapable of withdrawing your unconditional love once it has been given. The people we call our best friends.

The family we are born into “requires” our love but we get to decide which of our friends “deserve” our love.

There may be nothing more powerful than picking the people you want to love in life. Then letting a few of them in to see the real you. The broken you.

See, we all put on a show for the world. We all want the public to see us one way, while in reality we live anther. Because who would accept us if we were really ourselves all the time?

It wouldn’t take long before we started getting into fights, and running into problems at work. We would start pissing people off left and right and eventually we would find ourselves all alone. So instead, we pretend.

We attempt to restrict our true selves. We pretend to comport in order to fit into the different communities in which we live. But there is a small group of people from which you need not hide.

The people who you would take a bullet for, and just as fast, punch in the face. Maybe even while laying in the hospital bed after taking that bullet. And you would throw that punch with confidence, knowing that they will love you anyway.

Because physical pain stands no chance when you make that kind of connection.

When you find someone who can make you smile from a million miles away. When you find someone who doesn’t even have to be in the same room to make you feel better about yourself. When you find someone who you can allow into the closest circles of these lies we love to live.

When you can find a person who decides to put you first, because they know that you have done the same for them.

When you can finally find, a family of friends.

 

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Hitting the Wall – A Random Collisions of Thoughts

This post is part of my 30 day creative writing challenge. Click here to learn more about the challenge or here to explore the other posts in this series.

Dear god, what did I get myself into?

If you don’t know, about 11 days ago, I committed to 30 consecutive days of sharing my thoughts publicly.

What was I thinking?

I’m starting to wonder that myself right about now.

I never considered the fact that I might run out of things to write about. Maybe I should have planned ahead, or had a few articles ready on the fly. Maybe I should have prepared for moments like this. For the moments when nothing makes sense. When the only thought going through my head is “Go lay in bed!” For moments when I must not only fight the world, but must also fight myself. To create, to live, to smile.

It’s not that I’m at a loss for words. There are always plenty of words running through my head. But if I were to put them out to the world in their raw form, none of you would be able to understand them. None of you would be able to deal with the havoc that they are so capable of wreaking.

Instead I must massage and manipulate those thoughts. I must mold them so that you can read them and enjoy them as an interesting story. As beautiful allegory.

I wonder if any of you could last a day inside of my head?

I wonder if I could last a day inside of yours?

I wonder what it will be like when we are able to experience each other so intimately. Maybe that will be the 22nd century orgasm. The ability to jump into someones brain in a way that was never before possible. Combining your emotional experiences with those of another through the blending of technological and chemical processes. An experience that will surely make sexual relationships obsolete. After all, we’ll probably be ordering perfect babies online by then.

What the hell are you even talking about Raymmar?

Oh, nothing!

Just random thoughts, a few of the many that come to me through the course of any given day.

By the way, is it day 11 or day 12 of this challenge? Who even knows?

Wait what? It’s your challenge, you should know!

Shit, it’s not even half way through and it seems all I have left are fractions of thoughts. Thoughts about business mixed in with thoughts about bills. Thoughts about paying them and about trying to get by until the next time they come back around. Just a few of the random thoughts that I always deal with as a fledgling entrepreneur who keeps his brain out on public display.

The thoughts of a guy who keeps it real in his writing as well as the world he lives in. Something that has proven to be more costly than initially anticipated. So much for the freedom to be free. Turns out it’s pretty expensive to be free.

This website and some of my thoughts, have cost me A LOT of money in consulting contracts over the last year and a half.

The language, the raw expression of emotion. The religious references, the political rants. All of it has upset potential clients enough to lead them elsewhere for services that I was best suited to deliver. Rejected based on open expressions and thought. Rejected for everything this country is supposed to be known for. For poking fun at the things that we are not supposed to talk about publicly. Things that we are supposed to think only for ourselves.

Because the narrative needs to be controlled in order to be effective. And it would upset the balance if too many of us actually figured it out at once. If enough of us realized that life is a game, and then actually started to play it. And learned that the rules of this world are not written in stone. They are written by men and made to be challenged.

Imagine if the whole world was willing to admit that they might be wrong. About something. About anything. About everything. Maybe even about themselves.

Imagine if we could understand that at the end of the day, we are all human. That we are all capable of excellence, yet equally capable of making mistakes. That none of us are perfect. And that just because someone want us to pretend to be that way, does not mean we have to.

So here is another day of my thoughts. As random a glimpse into the back of my brain as you’ll ever get. As I sit here, avoiding myself and exposing myself, all at the same time. Trying to connect you to a piece of yourself that we all recognize, but hate to admit. Like riding a moped to the grocery store. It might be fun until your friends see you, but then the explanation begins. Because there is always an explanation isn’t there?

Always a reason. And that reason is never us? But maybe it should be.

 

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A Brief History of Me!

A brief autobiography. Because everybody should have one!

This post is part of my 30 day creative writing challenge. Click here to learn more about the challenge or explore the other posts in this series.

Overview: It occurred to me that everyone should have some sort of autobiography. It might be important in helping you organize your thoughts, tell your story, or just to write some part of you down for your future self to read. That being said, for today’s challenge, I present you with…

A Brief History Of Me

My parents moved to Columbus Ohio from Puerto Rico a few months before I was born. I guess you could say I was a journey man from day one. I grew up and lived a modest life on the north side of Columbus, Ohio graduating from Northland High School.

After High School I enrolled in the industrial design program at College for Creative Studies in Detroit Michigan with the desire to become a car designer. After a year in the program, unsure if I would be able to afford the next 4 years or be able to sit in a room and draw all day for the rest of my life, I decided to leave school and moved back to Columbus to “figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up”.

Shortly thereafter (March 2004) my mom and I went to visit my dad who had just moved to Manatee County Florida as the county surveyor. I saw an ad guaranteeing $36,000 a year to sell cars and figured “Why the hell not?”. I delayed my flight a few days so that I could take their sales training classes and flew back to Columbus the following Saturday. I packed all my stuff into the back seat of my 1999 Hyundai Tiburon, worked my last day as a lifeguard, had one final hurrah with all my friends before hitting the road back to Florida the next day. In one week I had gone from vacationing in Florida to living in Florida and shortly thereafter, my love for sales was born.

I was recruited from the car dealership to a local insurance agency to sell commercial property and casualty insurance. Things were going really well for me until one day they weren’t (I am skipping a few details here, but that’s 3rd date material). I ended up moving back to Columbus in November of 2009. Floundering around for a while, working misc jobs here and there, pretending to be a consultant, working at the swimming pool as a lifeguard again and I even managed a kitchen, all while trying to get back on my feet after my fall from grace.

Struggling to find a direction in life I felt lost, alone and worthless. I never gave up hope and I always knew I was put on this earth to do something amazing. I moved back to Florida in March of 2012 to chase my dream with reckless abandon. I figured if I was going to struggle and flail around in life, I would at least do it for myself. More than a year later I am doing well, building a reputation in the community as a thought leader in the world of sales and marketing, inspiring people through creativity and free thinking and I am now testing the waters with a few of my own ventures.

I have a variety of talents spread across a number of disciplines. I am an artist at heart, but I am also a skilled graphic designer, writer, web designer, user interface designer, I shoot and edit video in my free time, handle SEO, blogging, social media, write a couple thousand words a week and so much more. I am the modern day renaissance man with a passion for learning and everything creative. My quest for world domination is really a shill for me to learn and explore as much of the world around me as possible without having to do it under the constraints of someone else’s corporate philosophy.

I firmly believe that I have struggled in life as preparation for what is yet to come and am looking forward to the next chapter in my life. This website is my voice to the world. A place for me to speak my mind, stir conversation and show off my creative talents. Stick around for a while, bookmark the site and feel free to keep in touch as I claw my way from nothing to the top of the world!

 

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Perspective: Why We Are All Right In Our Own Eyes

“Maybe you felt uncomfortable with the way I portrayed you because I was right!”

This post is part of my 30 day creative writing challenge. Click here to learn more about the challenge or explore the other posts in this series.

Yesterday I shared a very difficult experience from my past. It was an event that changed me forever.

Some of the other people who were there that day took issue with the way I portrayed them in that story.

I found that interesting, because a few of the others who were there reached out to me privately to let me know they appreciated that post tremendously.

But the truth of the matter is that I am only able to write from one perspective. My own. I can only tell my story from where I saw it, and I did just that, as honestly as I possible could.

No offense to those who did not like my thoughts, but they are my own and I am the one writing this narrative. I am the one exploring my thoughts. Maybe you felt uncomfortable with the way I portrayed it because you know I was right. Have you considered that?

Have you ever considered that the reason you hate hearing the truth because you know it’s true? Because you know that you are not being honest with yourself? Unwilling to let yourself see the real you. Hiding behind the person you want the world to think you are.

This is why I am challenging you to write every day for 30 days. Heck, maybe you’ll get hooked and end up like me. Unable to go a day without writing something. Even if it’s just a random thought. Even if it never gets shared, read or heard.

Because I want to tell my story. I want to give my perspective. I want to organize my thought so that I can learn how to understand myself as thoroughly as possible. And I want to share them with the world so that I can use them to hold myself accountable.

So thanks for being a part of this challenge and please, share your stories with us so that we can share them with the world. If not for me, then do it for you. I read them all myself, respond personally when I can and share it on my blog if it’s really good.

I promise you’ve never been as high as the moment when you get a note from a reader telling you that your work changed their life.

So express yourself! Share your thoughts! Define your perspective.

Because if you ask me, it’s the only way to truly live!

 

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Am I Responsible for the Drowning Death of A 13 Year Old Boy?

This article was featured on the Medium home page!

When I was 19, a boy drowned at the pool where I worked. I was the first responder. This is the story of that day as I remember it.

Dedicated to Murphy Shurig. Aug 4, 2002

This post is part of my 30 day creative writing challenge. Click here to learn more about the challenge or explore the other posts in this series.

“Lifeguard, lifeguard!”

The screams were coming from a group of boys who moments ago were playing and throwing a ball back and forth. They were regulars at the pool but I didn’t know any of them well.

This was my first summer at this particular pool, so I hadn’t gotten to know all of the pool rats yet. I did know that they were all above average swimmers though. They were also just on the edge of my zone, (the part of the pool a lifeguard is responsible for watching). It was right where my zone and the other life guard’s zone intersected.

I thought they might be trying to get my attention as part of a game they were playing, something that is not all that uncommon. But when I looked over, I saw them holding up one of their friends. They were lifting him to the edge of the pool.

I looked over in time to see them setting him up on the edge and let him go. Just in time to watch his pale body fall lifeless to the deck.

And then time stopped…

THIS IS NOT A DRILL!!!

In what seemed like slow motion, I jumped from my platform on the guard chair down to the ground. I’m not sure why, but as I ran over to where the boy was laying, I pulled the whistle and lanyard from around my neck and flung it away.

When I got to where they had dropped his body I saw my worst nightmare laying on the ground in front of me. His skin tone was not natural. Not blue like they show in the movies, but not like any color skin I had ever seen before.

I checked for a pulse. It was there, but it was weak. The manager on duty must have noticed that something was going on because she started to walk over.

I screamed at someone  nearby to call 911, and ran to the guard shack for gloves and a mask. Thing I should have had on me at the time.

When I got back, the manager had starting rescue breathing. She must not have had the airway opened properly because that air went right into his stomach and not his lungs.

How do I know? Because vomit, that’s how. Lot’s of it. Right into her mouth!

Watching the kid throw up should have thrilled me, except this was not voluntarily evacuation. The air she was breathing into his stomach just needed to escape… along with whatever he had eaten for lunch.

I straddled his lifeless body and started thrusting above his pelvis and just below the belly button. Pelvic thrusts to make sure the airway was clear and to help purge the rest of whatever was left in his stomach so we could try the breaths again.

She cleared his mouth with her finger, put the mask over his mouth and tried to give him another breath. He threw up again but this time was different. This was a mild mix of foamy whiteness and whatever else was left in him from the previous purge.

I look to my right, towards the two other pools. The rest of the lifeguards are still sitting in their chairs. People swimming as if nothing was happening. I noticed that the lifeguard who had her back to me was turned around to see what was going on. I could tell she was crying. I can’t imagine what it would feel like to sit there and not be able to react.

My first thought was anger. “Why aren’t you helping?” And then I realized it was actually a good thing. It was a big facility and if they had cleared the pools, a huge crowd would be gathering around us.

Even then, a crowd was forming. Small at first, but the people who had cleared the slide pool were starting to notice that something was seriously wrong.

I continue scanning the scene. It was like time was frozen but I wasn’t.

I locked eyes with a mom who was standing there with her two kids. One on either side of her, under each arm.

“Get them out of here!” I shouted in her direction.

Where is the other lifeguard that was watching the slide pool with me? Shouldn’t she be handling crowd control? Did anyone call the paramedics? Breathe kid, Please just take a breath on your own! Dozens of thoughts were shooting through my head all at once.

I finally see the other guard. She’s standing over by the front gate, probably waiting for the paramedics. She was also crying.

I look back down, another breath, still nothing. I check for a pulse again. It’s there, but barely. No chest compressions, yet.

It get’s a little fuzzy from there, but those few minutes felt like forever. The next thing I know the paramedics were there and it was all I could do to get away from the seemingly lifeless body.

I took a step back and fell to my knees. How could this be happening to me?

I was prepared for this. I was the guard who was always stressing the importance of training. I was the guard who suggested that we start doing weekly in-service trainings, but “that would not be necessary at this pool!” is what I was told it.

“We’ve never had a drowning or major accident at this pool. There is no need for that kind of training.”

That’s what the manager told me earlier that summer. The same one who had just been mouth-to-mouth with a lifeless 13 year old boy.

What a shitty time to be thinking I told you so!

That was just a few days before another ominous conversation I had at the beginning of that summer. A conversation in which I told my girlfriend at the time (a lifeguard at the same facility) that “Someone is going to die at this pool.”

I wasn’t specifically saying that someone would die that summer, but I sure as shit said it, and I hate that about myself. I hate that I saw it coming and still did nothing.

I saw that the training was lax and that to most of the seasonal staff, life guarding was about getting a great tan and hanging at the pool all summer. They were all strong swimmers, and the pool was in a wealthy neighborhood. After all, things like that aren’t supposed to happen here.

At least that is what they thought, before that day.

Could I have done more?

I hated myself for not being more vocal. For not being more adamant when I saw someone sitting in their chair sideways, or ignoring the pool. I should have spoken up when I saw someone using the rescue tube as a pillow, or reclining in their chair for a better tanning position. But I was the new guy. What was I gonna to do?

It wasn’t like I spent the summer before that managing a another local pool, and the summer before that working the wave pool at a large water park. I quit counting after 100 rescues that summer. But not at this pool.

There we were, half way through the summer, and I hadn’t made a single rescue. Maybe they were right. Maybe nothing bad was ever going to happen here.

So I started to relax. I started to become complaisant. Mostly I just wanted to fit in. And after a few times of being called “Pool Nazi,” I decided to roll with the cool kids. I decided to set my intuition aside and do things their way. I decided to drop my guard.

But I should have known better. Because I was also the guy who had been through everything you could ever go through as a lifeguard. I was the guy who knew, that at any moment, something could go wrong. The one who should have been prepared. But there I was. The first responder, and unprepared. I was the guy who failed. And it might have cost the kid his life.

To make things worse…

The police wanted to talk to us right away. They took me and the other guard, the one who had run to the front gate to wait for the ambulance, and put us in the back of a cop car to fill out the required reports. A cop car that just so happened to be sitting at the base of the steps that lead to the entrance of the pool.

It left us sitting so that everyone leaving the pool, as it was being cleared, would have to walk by and see us sitting in the back of that car. I felt like a criminal. I couldn’t stop shaking. No tears though, those would come later.

After I was done with the police I went into the office where some of the pool staff and management was talking. I remember trying to call my parents to come pick me up, driving was out of the question. My dad answered the phone.

Before I could get a single word out, I started bawling. Uncontrollable tears as the reality of the event began to set in. One of the managers, or maybe one of the board members (I can’t really remember) took the phone from me to explain the situation and have them come pick me up. I was 19 years old.

A piece of me died that day, even though the kid lived. But just barely. He would never regain consciousness.

It would take me more than a decade to realize how this event had changed my entire trajectory. To realize that it sent me on a spiral of self destruction that would eventually lead me to drop out of college, move across state lines and bury myself in whatever distraction I could find.

I spent a lot of time at his bedside the next few days, until the family decided to take him off of life support. His pain was over. But mine was just beginning.

A final round of tests during an autopsy revealed that he suffered from some sort of heart condition. It just happened to hit him while he was under water. They said that the same thing might have happened to him if he was playing at a baseball diamond, or in his back yard.

But he wasn’t at a baseball diamond. He wasn’t playing in his back yard, was he? He was at a pool. He was at my pool. And I was the guy. I could have saved him!

I was left to replay the events of that day in my head over and over. Wondering what I could have done differently. Knowing that none of those thoughts were productive but allowing them to eat at me nonetheless.

The local fire station set up some counseling for us, but it wasn’t at all helpful. How was an hour of talking going to change anything? The memory would be forever engrained in the deepest creases of my mind.

I would later meet with the boy’s parents and deliver a letter I had written to them.  Two letters actually.

One was a firsthand account of the events of that day (in a sealed envelope in case they didn’t want to read it) and the other was a letter offering myself to them, in whatever way they might have me.

They never blamed me for the events of that day, but they didn’t have to. My worst fear had come true, and I blamed myself.

 

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I Saw Myself In Another Man And Hated What I Saw

This post is part of my 30 day creative writing challenge. Click here to learn more about the challenge or explore the other posts in this series.

Today I saw myself in another man and hated what I saw

I was in an argument that had absolutely no purpose. An argument, simply for the sake of arguing. Picking sides in a battle because I had to be right, but by the time I noticed, it was already too late.

I was too stubborn to step back and too determined to prove to myself that I was right. Because, well… I was right.

But so was he. Kind of.

And so there we sat. Both right, yelling at each other for no real reason, and then I saw it.

I saw myself.

Looking at this man I saw myself arguing with so many others over the course of my life. Defending my position because I was already emotionally committed to the argument.

Unwilling to humble myself because my macho man mechanism was in full force.

I hated that moment. It made me realize how it must feel to sit on the other side of a stubborn mule like myself. I found myself in the middle of the same argument that I must have had a hundred times before. Almost always as the immovable rock.

So as hard as it is for me to do, I tried to humble myself. I tried to take a step back but I couldn’t fully disengage. I still had enough of the old me left in the tank to try and show him how much like me he was actually being. But it was of no use.

He had no interest in having himself tell himself how much like himself he was acting.

And it was in that very moment that I grew. As if I had hit a psychological growth spurt. As I sat there dumbfounded, caught in this real life freeze-frame of a time, not long ago, when I was the one who was arguing recklessly. Oblivious to the futility of it all.

It was in that moment that I realized how childish I have been all along and quite often still am. It was in that moment that I realized there was no sense in being right if all it meant was feeling wrong.

And so it ended. Another tough lesson in this game we call life, but one we would all be well served to learn. Maybe next time, I’ll see myself in a man and like what I see. And maybe I’ll learn how to be more like him. Maybe I’ll learn to swallow my pride and take a step back. Or maybe, I’ll just do it all over again, like I have before.

After all, do any of us ever really change?

Are you a writer? Ever have a desire to write? Click the button below to learn more about my 30 day creative writing challenge and learn how you can empower yourself through your words and the words of others.

 

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