CIA = Courage In Action
Last fall I flew to Kona, HI to join a friend in her family’s condo, and by join I mean crash. Also, my parents came along, because if I’m going to poach a sweet vacay spot, I’m bringin’ the fam along. Duh. Plus, I’m their favorite daughter, so I kind of have to keep up the charade. Also they fly for free because I work for the airlines; which might explain why I’m their favorite daughter.
I never did adjust to the time change in Hawaii, and after an especially sleepless night, I got up before dawn to walk along the edge of the dark rocky cliffs and watch the sun rise. It’s worth noting I tried particularly hard not to get distracted taking pictures of the rising sun, and fall off the dark cliffs into the equally dark sea, I’m thoughtful like that.
Plus transporting bodies is a pain.
I was quite a ways up the path when I saw my father slowly close the sliding glass door of the condo and quietly walk into the calm of early morning dawn. He wandered from the patio, to a nearby picnic table by the edge of the ocean and sat down on the bench. I watched him as he surveyed the great density of the sea, then took off his hat, bowed his head and offered what I instinctively knew was a prayer. I remember being struck by the tangible power of example. My father didn’t even know I was awake, let alone watching him. Pretty much I have mad stalker skills.
While witnessing this moment of unabashed reverence, I was reminded again how fortunate I’ve been to have a father like my dad, and a mother like my mom. Watching him in the predawn dark, made me think back to all those long ago winter mornings of my youth. It was often still dark when I’d stumble up the stairs from my basement bedroom, weak with sleep, dragging my blanket behind me as I climbed. Predictably, I’d find my dad in his underwear, kneeling in front of the brick fireplace steadily blowing life into the beginning sparks of a new flame.
As I made my way back down the path, I thought how fatherhood doesn’t always get the credit it deserves, when in fact it is as sacred and honorable as motherhood. Okay, okay. Let’s not go crazy here. I mean someone has to be the gold medalist even if it is by 1/100 of a second and come on… #momsforthewin 🙂
I stopped along the path to pull a rock from my sandal and carelessly tossed it into the sea. I watched the ripples widen and bob, the ever growing rings radiating from the area of impact, and steadily making their way back towards the beach, where they lick the rocks like ice cream, lap the sweet frothy butter fat of the shore.
The rippling effects of my dad’s example pull me forward like the tide, tug at my heart with a gravitational force that seems inbred, second nature, instinctual. I understand now how exhausting it is to be a parent. I know the way your muscles can cramp from endlessly treading the murky water of responsibility. How your shoulders stay tense, in constant anticipation of standing rigid and ready to toss the life saver towards the waves, and pull a would be sailor back to safety. We have all left the house, my brothers and I. We are all married and have kids and lives of our own, but still my mother, my father, scan the waves, unable to let go of the the guttural call of lifesaving.
I am certain my father, like me, like all of us, had moments when all he wanted to do was drift away from the chaos of the reef and just be. Believe me. I have four brothers, who can only be described as spirited. Not to mention, me. But my father has kept swimming, and so too, must I.
My father is a CIA agent.
No, he’s not a spy. Or maybe he is, but hasn’t told me because then he’d have to kill me, and he doesn’t want to. He’s nice like that.
CIA is an acronym I made up to stand for Courage In Action. I am constantly scanning the shorelines for examples of people who are living courageously. Heres who continue to fight against the pull of apathy, so I can model my actions to mimic the characteristic I want to develop in myself; integrity, bravery, kindness, faithfulness, endurance and grace.
There are CIA’s everywhere. You will see them, if you look. They are there, hugging the shadows like batman, just waiting to spring into action, saving the world, one courageous act at a time.
As for me, I will follow the lead of my father, and stop fighting the waves so hard. I will be humble like he is and allow the swells to move me. I will mimic his strokes and breathing, I won’t forget to come up for air.
And I will try my best to look up and smile into the bright sun; even when the ocean tastes as salty as tears.