A week later I once again loaded up my boat. I started the motor and rode the waves out of the bay. When I reached the spot I put on my tanks and face mask and flippers and was about to throw myself overboard when…I stopped. I looked at the cool green water, and felt the spray of the waves on my face, and tried again. I couldn’t. I looked at the water, dismayed, as a growing sense of fear and dread overtook me. Sadly, I took off my tanks. I took off my mask. I took off my flippers. I started the motor and headed back to the shore.
Back at my little beach cottage I moped and paced, trying to shake off this fear. Nothing helped. I forgot to eat. I tossed and turned all night. In the morning I woke with huge dark half-moons under my eyes. As I splashed my face with cold water, I thought over the situation. I couldn’t stay afraid of water for the rest of my life! I decided I’d try once more.
I walked down to a deserted part of the beach. I waded in up to my ankles. Then up to my knees. Then up to my waist. The water came up to my chest, and stopped rising. I couldn’t force myself to go in farther. A cold ball of fear settled in my stomach. I wanted to scream, to shout at the unfairness of it all, but instead I quietly turned around and went back home. I knew I would go back to my job as a curator after all.
That evening I moodily walked along the water line, scuffing my toes in the sand. Then, as though through a fog, a voice reached me. I jerked my head up. There was panic in that voice, and it was coming from the water. Quickly I scanned the waves. Then I saw a head bobbing on the waves, a few hundred feet from shore. It was the face of a young girl.
Without thinking, I waded into the water up to my waist. I took a deep breath and put my arms above my head to dive under when the fear came again. My arms sank to my sides. I half turned back, but the cry reached me again. I gritted my teeth. I knew I had to do this. It didn’t matter what happened to me! I threw my arms over my head, and dove under. With strong strokes I swam out to the girl. I reached her, cupped her chin in my hand and started a backstroke towards shore. By this time a crowd had gathered, and when I reached the beach, I handed her over to them and then slipped away quickly.
I was exultantly joyful! I had done it! I had saved her life! A warm, happy feeling spread through my body. Finally, I knew what I wanted to do with my life. Although I had enjoyed my job as a curator, I knew now that it was not my purpose. My life would always be by the ocean, and now I knew that my calling was, too. A great happiness welled up inside me. I knew what I had to do.