Staying Alive

Learn from the little lessons so you don’t have to learn from the big ones.


I bought an expensive (for me) pair of fancy floating sunglasses to take paddle boarding. I even got the little strap to hang them around my neck so I wouldn’t lose them if I fell off my board.

You can probably guess where this is going… of course I lost them the first time I went out with them. Nicole and I were paddle surfing along some rolling waves (which was a lot of fun) and I lost my balance, running backwards across my board until I ran out of board.

I hopped back on the board and continued on. It wasn’t until we decided to go back to shore that I realized I was not wearing my sunglasses and hadn’t been for some time. We walked along the shore, looking out in the water and along the shoreline, and we paddled back the way we came, but with all the water action, the sunglasses were long gone.

There are, I think, a few lessons in this story (such as buying white frames instead of clear so I can see them floating in the water, tightening the adjustable headband so they do not fall off, and having an extra pair handy), but the biggest lesson is this:

Be aware of your surroundings but also be aware of yourself. If I had simply touched my neck after I tumbled, I would have realized they were missing and probably would have found them floating next to me.

I was reminded of black belt training and essentially learning the same lesson. You might see an opportunity to strike your opponent (aware of your surroundings) but, should you take it, you may end up in a worse position to be attacked (unaware of yourself).

I was also reminded of other ways I have learned this lesson…

…a shaving mistake because someone called my name and I turned my head to answer (aware of my surroundings) but forgot to move the trimmer away from my face (unaware of myself–true, I have done it).

…dispensing advice on how to improve someone’s situation or life (aware of my surroundings) but neglecting to practice what I have preached (unaware of myself).

…remembering to grab my lunch, phone, and wallet on my way out the door for work in the morning (aware of my surroundings), but realizing when I arrived at the office that I never brushed my hair while I was hurrying to get ready (unaware of myself).

In other words, some lessons take longer to stick but if you learn from the little lessons, you won’t have to learn when it can┬áreally cost you.