I like sharks.
Probably because I’ve carefully avoided seeing Jaws, Sharknado, and anything on the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week.
But is it smart to swim with them?
A Shark at the Dog Park
When we take Honey to the dog park, I’m a very hands-on person. We don’t enter if we see dogs belonging to out-of-control people. I call Honey to me to keep up a physical connection even when she’s excited by the other dogs. And I don’t let Honey rush up to every dog without my checking out the situation first.
One day I saw a man and his Doberman enter the dog park from a rear entrance.
The Doberman ran to the highest point in the park and surveyed her surrounding. The dog’s energy was so intense that I grabbed Honey by the collar to keep her from rushing up to the Doberman until I could observe the situation.
In moments I decided the Doberman was no threat to Honey. She took a strong, watchful posture. But she was not tense or worried. She was just surveying her environment, like a shark observing the sea life all around her.
I had the feeling the Doberman would not be very interested in my bouncy golden retriever. But I left Honey to find out on her own if the Doberman wanted to be her friend.
Honey ran up but slowed down to approach respectfully from the side. The two sniffed each other briefly. Then the Doberman ran off to play ball with her person.
I never saw the Doberman play with anyone but her person. But she had a strong presence in the dog park.
And I was glad Honey peacefully coexisted with the beautiful, calm, and self-assured dog that couldn’t care less about the other dogs in the park.
Sharks on the School Bus
Through my first two years in high school, I was extremely shy and awkward. (Yes, I can hear the snorts now from blogville friends who have met me live. I’m the last person anyone would call shy today.)
I felt terrified of drawing attention to myself.
In high school, I felt like a lonely shrimp surrounded by swimming sharks.
One day, with my hood over my head and sinking as low as I could into my bus seat, I had an amazing thought. “None of these people cares if I live or die.” I suddenly felt light coming in through the cracks. No one cared about me one way or the other. Woo hoo!
To a healthy and happy person that must sound awfully dark. But in my gloomy self-consciousness, it was earth-shattering good news.
Because if no one cared if I was there or not, I could just get on with my life and stop worrying that the sharks swimming around me would notice me and turn me into dinner.
After that, my whole life changed. It’s not that I never feel self-conscious or awkward. Or that no one picked on me in school.
But it felt so temporary and unimportant. Because everyone else was dealing with their own stuff. And I didn’t rise to anyone’s notice most of the time.
That revelation led me to do all kinds of weird things in public without worrying what people thought of me. In my life, I have:
- worked as a clown
- told ridiculous jokes and stories about America’s founding fathers as a tour guide in a historic church
- cavorted down city streets in my underwear to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Rocky Horror Picture Show
- gotten laughs teaching hundreds of students about credit reports, mortgages, and homeowner’s insurance
- choreographed and performed in a routine of dancing wheelbarrows
I feel like a shark myself. Just minding my own business and doing what I gotta do.
Sharks in Panama
When I go snorkeling for the first time next month, I’m hoping to catch a glimpse of a shark.
Many people consider the 365 islands of the Kuna Yala, where we’ll be sailing, a paradise—except for the sharks. And crocodiles.
But I’m not afraid. I suspect that sharks are like self-assured Dobermans and high school cheerleaders. Just taking care of business and not terribly interested in me.