During my beach walk, I came across a posted sign that said “Dangerous Current.” There were lifeguards working and people were in the water, but in this posted area, swimmers were warned that something was different than normal.
When I worked at the beach, we called this a riptide: defined by Wikipedia as “a strong tidal flow of water within estuaries and other enclosed tidal areas” or “a fast narrow current running offshore and cutting through breaking waves.” When I worked as a lifeguard, we tried to keep people out of the area, especially if we could tell they weren’t such strong swimmers.
See, in a riptide, you can easily make it out into the water, but when you attempt to come back to shore, you have to fight like mad to make it in. [I’ve always found that diagonally approaching the shore was the way to get out; when people panic, they attempt to get to dry land by going in a straight line.] Most people were reasonably cautious around the riptide, but every once and awhile, someone would think they could do it. The only time I ever had to go into the water after someone, it was when another guard was on the stand near the riptide… and let a tourist go in too far!
Those dangerous current signs are there for a reason. They’re supposed to help us. We have signs in our lives that are supposed to remind us of danger – fight or flight indicators; we have the counsel of family and friends; we have the writings of those wiser than we are, and even the writings many would call spiritual (like the Bible). Too often, we plunge in and ignore the warnings, and then flounder. Then someone else has to pull us out.
What if we acknowledged the signs and steered clear of the more troublesome areas?