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The RipTide of Mediocrity

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Gulf of Mexico V by anne.oeldorf.
Gulf of Mexico V by anne.oeldorf

I just returned from a much needed and incredibly re-charging trip to the beach with my son, The Young Turk, and his bestfriendinthewholewideworld. The weather was perfect and the water was jellyfish- and seaweed-free. And, except for yesterday, the whole week was uneventful – which is my idea of a vacation.

BUT, what happened yesterday really got me thinking on the drive home (I had a TON of time to think sitting in traffic, but that is another story for another day.). Here’s what went down:

Since it was our last morning at the beach, I arranged our departure schedule so that the boys would have time for one last hurrah at the ocean doing their very favorite thing – boogie boarding. They’d spent the entire week mastering the skills of watching the waves and knowing the precise moment to throw their hearts into it and kick like mad so they could ride to shore – laughing all the way.

It was early in the morning, so I sat in the sand with my book (I had a few pages left to finish Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott – hilarious stuff for any writer) and watched them splash and laugh and ride in on the waves breaking closest to shore.  They were having fun; I was enjoying the past pages of my book.  A perfect ending to a perfect vacation. Until I looked up.

They were way too far out and the waves werent’ moving them towards shore any more. I called to them to come in but as I watched them kick, I saw them moving further OUT instead of in. I’ve been swimming in the Gulf of Mexico all of my life so I knew exactly what was happening. They were caught in a riptide (“a strong surface current flowing outwards from a shore”) and they weren’t strong enough to out swim it.

Book, baseball hat and sunglasses hit my towel and I was in the water faster than you can say “ice cold”. I could feel the power of the pull as I swam out to them. After collecting both of them – which took some maneuvering –  and getting them in front of me, I had to swim with all I had to get us all back to shore safely (and I am a really strong swimmer.). 

And when we finally DID reach the shore, I was out of breathe and shaking. How did that happen? Why didn’t I notice sooner? And a million other mommy kind of questions I won’t go into here.

(The upside? Last night as I was putting The Young Turk to bed, he said, “You were my hero today, Mom. I got kinda scared out in the water and I asked God to help me and then there you were.” That is about as awesome as it gets for this mom.)

So, as I reflected on this event as we sat in several traffic jams yesterday, I started thinking about how Mediocrity is kind of like a riptide.

I mean, think about it. It’s not like we stand on the beach and say “I’d like to swim in the mediocre water, please – the more mediocre it is, the happier I’ll be!”

No – we want the good stuff. The great waves that we learn to ride in our own particular way with our own particular style (getting tips from those who know more than we do makes this easier AND more fun). We want to ride them in easily, laughing the whole time – and that’s what we do for a while. Then we stop paying close attention to where we are and what we are doing. We may get distracted by watching those who “seem” to know more or have better “style” than we do, or we may just get lazy and forget to stay aware.

All of a sudden, we look around and realize that we’re being pulled out to the sea of mediocrity. And to make matters worse, the harder we kick to get out of it, the stronger it’s grip.  We need some help – serious help – along with a little divine intervention if we want to get back to easy water so we can relax and play while we get better at whatever it is our hearts are pursuing.

I’m thinking that the collective wisdom of the tribe that is forming here at The Maverick Mom is going to become EXACTLY that kind of rescue for all of us who are looking to Escape Mediocrity. And I gotta tell ya – I am REALLY glad I’m not swimming against that riptide alone. 🙂

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