I Can’t Swim the Lake if I’m Chained to the Dock

There was a time in my life when the people around me encouraged me to, just sign up for welfare.  Imagine that!  This was the atmosphere I grew up in.  It was not a nice neighborhood. I have a library full of “excuses” I could legitimately claim, but this is not an origin story, so I’ll leave it at that.  But, I was literally told to embrace all my excuses and to accept it. Welfare!  That was the advice.  So, should I drop out of high school now, or …

Then there was join our church, join our group, become a union member, join our street gang (no bullshit), join this or that; come with us.

I’ve always had something in me that said, “Fuck your group.”

If I’m chained to the dock, I can’t swim the lake.  Sure, the dock might save me from drowning, but I don’t want to be chained to the damn thing.

Those chains tell us what we can or can’t do; what we can eat and when, what we think, and what we wear.  How did they come up with these rules?  Chains that say, we’re poor and “underprivileged”, so accept it; this is our lot in life.  The chains of the dock say, there’s safety in our group, but here are all the rules you have to live by in order to be one of us.

I’m not a great swimmer; literally and metaphorically.  But, I’m swimming.  Freely.  It’s not easy at first.  In fact, I almost drowned a few times.  And when I was drowning, that’s when they really wanted me to quit, join the group, and chain myself to that dock.  Meanwhile, they think you’re and idiot for even trying.  Then they gossip about you and you realize your relationship with those people; friends, neighbors, and family as well, will be left at the dock.  I’m feeling lighter already and I’m really getting the hang of this swimming thing.

When we lose all the excuses, we gain all the power.

I don’t like chains; chains of that club, organization, mindset, and that thought process that wants us to believe that because we were born and raised behind the eight ball, that is where we’ll stay.

No chains for me.  I like my freedom.

I’m on my tenth president. Some had multiple terms.  You do the math.  Wait … don’t.  In that time, war, peace, scandals, assassination attempts, republican, democrat, conservative, liberal, effective, useless, uniting, divisive, morals, adulterers, and conspiracies, both real and theoretical.

Nothing …

Not politics, not the president –

Not that time the company I was working for closed its doors unexpectedly, when I had a young family with a mortgage and car payments –

Not that time we invested $40,000 into a business venture and lost it all in a matter of weeks (ramen noodles for everyone!) –

Not that time when either of my parents died and had to deal with Medicare, Medicaid, insurance, the banks, attorneys, and everything else –

Not that time I had two guns pressed into my skull –

Not all the nights I went to sleep to the sound of gunshots, screams, sirens, broken glass, and the elevated train –

Not that time I was hit by a car –

Not that time I got jumped and beaten in the projects, got attacked by a gang leader, got laughed at, failed ninth grade, broke my back, went bald, and … a million other things.

Nothing.  Not anything ever made me want to be chained to that dock, even when the swimming got hard.

Freedom and power.  Swimming isn’t easy.  But, it’s not that hard either.

Photo by Tj Holowaychuck on Unsplash