My son went to the Pacific for the first time near Stinson Beach. He can’t really walk without support, but grasping my fingers he charged right into the sea. He has no notion of swimming or for that matter basic safety. He wanted to dart into the waves, to go into the unknown.
I am job hunting again, a process similar to speed dating but without the intimacy. There is a habit of some shops to try to stump the candidate. They ask about a technical api or some arcane part of language that can be answered, usually, in four minutes in a web search and it is as if their main hiring requirement is to make sure that their programmers will work when the internet goes down. The truth is that when the network goes away everybody goes out for coffee, so the fear is a little misguided.
You can always find something that somebody doesn’t know, and as such that isn’t the mark of a good interviewer. What is more impressive is trying to find out what it is like when someone is over their heads, when they rushed their ocean and the waves were bigger than they were - how do we handle struggle.
I flail most of the time. I want to pretend that I could be calm, that I would handle the crisis with an even demeanor, but the truth is that when things get hard, there is mostly panic. I want to pretend that there isn’t fear, but that is as silly as pretending that the ocean doesn’t exist.
I can sometimes ground myself in my memory - that I have some sense as I tumble about which way is up. I remind myself that I have survived other job hunts and other bad jobs. I remember to breathe.
This time is different. Someone else’s tiny hand holds mine. These days I don’t need a life preserver for myself as much as a raft for my family.
My son has a giggly laugh when he gets excited. He has my mouth and my wife’s eyes which crinkle with joy. He loves the ocean. He loves bananas, blueberries, yogurt and chicken. He loves his grandmothers though he has no idea what the word “grandmother” means. He loves chewing on a plastic bath toy. He loves chewing on paper.
We will go back to the ocean soon. We will take lessons on how to swim. I will try to teach him not to put sand in his mouth. He will teach me to giggle at the waves.