Dolphins have always been a large part of my life. They were my favorite animal growing up; I mean literally, at birthdays and Christmas everyone always gave me dolphin themed memorabilia. I had the notepads, stickers, miniature desk see-saw with dolphins as the seats, posters, wall canvas’s, you name it, I probably had it. When I was really young, I can remember being out on the shrimp boat begging Dad to tell me when the dolphins came up to breathe so I could see them. I would sit on the bunk and just stare at the waves, hoping, wanting, yearning to just see one dorsal fin breakthrough the surface. I had never seen them before, just heard the fantastic stories at dinner. Of dolphins jumping the front waves of the colossal red tankers, of them swimming up to the boat when Dad was bringing in the net, of them soaring out of the water as they swam and played.
Interestingly enough, dolphins are the reason we found out that I needed glasses, that I really, really needed glasses! Dad and I were out on the boat, I was probably seven or eight. Dad got really excited, jumped up from his chair, and told me to watch the dolphins as he attempted to point them out for me. Standing inside the cabin, I couldn't make them out. So we walked out on the deck, and he tried pointing them out again. I struggled to see what he was talking about. Everywhere he pointed, I just saw water, nothing at all specific. He knelt down next to me and told me to look down his arm and right over his finger, right at the dolphins. Placing a hand over my forehead, I leaned forward, squinted really hard, and still saw nothing but water. Within a few short weeks, the school did their annual hearing and vision tests… low and behold I definitely needed glasses. Dad always stated that it was because of not being able to see the dolphins that he knew I needed glasses.
My parents always supported my love for dolphins. They even took all of us kids to the Natural Museum of Science, and we watched the IMAX documentary on dolphins. I was thrilled. It was the coolest thing I had ever watched. It was during this film that I learned that dolphins sleep with one eye open. They shut down one hemisphere of their brain and close the opposite eye. This enables them to watch out for predators that could harm their calves or themselves. Me being the infatuated child that I was (let us be real… I think I was like twelve at this time) tried for weeks to sleep with one eye open. Finally, I admitted failure and decided I would be the worst dolphin to every swim the face of the earth.
Just the other day, I was driving over the Fred Hartman bridge watching the Houston Ship Channel like the time I was watching for dolphins. I was instantly thrown back to those moments of trying so hard to sleep with one eye open. I thought about how I live my life now. How I feel like I am sleeping with one eye open. Waiting for the absolute unthinkable to happen again. To have my life ripped away from me in the most traumatic way. Or rather, not have my life taken, but to live again with the haunting of a casual day gone haywire. In that moment, I realized how faithless I was being.
We shouldn't live our lives with one eye open, waiting for the improbable to occur. God says we will have trouble but to take heart for He has overcome the world. This life is so fleeting, therefore we should live it with the idea that everything comes and goes at some point. Happiness and sorrow. Joy and frustration. Love and hurt. Peace and turmoil.
As the New Year ensues, I encourage you to re-evaluate how you are living your life. How positive is your mindset? How uplifting to others and to yourself are you? Determine where the negativity is in your life, and eliminate it. Life is too short to focus on or wait for the bad things to occur, find the joy in every moment and remember to thank God for it.
“I have told you these things, so that in my you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33