Thursday, August 18, 2011

Everyday Heroes

I met Wonder Woman yesterday.

No - not the one with long, flowing hair that wears a red and white girdle in the Marvel Books. That Wonder Woman has never been a real favorite of mine. Besides being severely immodest, I've just never found her hugely exciting. The Marvel creators had already taken brought fame to Superman and Spiderman, and DC had created Batman, before they all suddenly realized that their male to female ratio was off and that they had better hurry and throw in a girl before the ladies of America got upset. Thus, the girl super heroes - Wonder Woman, Cat Girl, Bat Woman, and so on - were brought into being. But because of their second place incoming, they always seemed to me to be kind of an afterthought - a little washed out, and not nearly as exciting as their bold, damsel-saving male predecessors.

Yesterday, however, I met Wonder Woman - and she could have kicked the colored tights right off of any comic book superhero.

I don't know what her real name was - I only heard it said once, and I couldn't hear it very well. Madi or Marci, I think. She sat in a small white tower, rather low to the sand. She wore a bright red bikini swim suit - which isn't hugely modest in itself, I realize, but what she did next was enough to make me forget any ammount of revealing swim wear.

I didn't see it happen, but I've been told. We were sitting on a sandy beach in Southern California, watching the waves roll in their course as the little ones made castles and hunted for sea shells and got their suits full of sand. Perfect family outing. However, hidden to all but the most skillful eye, beneath the waves a hidden danger lurked - a Rip current, which had the power to pull even the strongest swimmer out into the open sea.

I had felt it myself, while out body surfing with my brothers. We knew that there was a withstandable current that pulled us parallel to the shore, such that we always had to be taking two steps forward and one to the left, in order to go against it. However, when we started to get a little deeper, I felt a pull that was completely different. It hadn't seemed that deep, just to our waists, but with the swells coming in, the water could rise up to my neck in a second. And it did. Almost before I knew it I was swimming a rapid crawl stroke, which, though fast enough in the pool, now felt downright pathetic. I wasn't making any headway. For a moment I began to panic and sent a silent prayer heavenward that I would be able to get back to shore. I did, riding a few of the bigger waves to give me momentum. However, there was that moment when I had felt I would not be able to get back, that I would be stuck out there - I didn't think I could keep swiming like that for long. I was fine, though - if far more wary of the deep water after that.

I tell you my own experience with the Rip because not long after, so I am told, the same thing happened to another swimmer. I don't know what he felt exactly, but I give you my own experience so you have something to imagine. I had been near the shore, though, and had come in safely. He was farther out, and had been pulled away by the current. It held him there, far from shore, and he could not swim back. He must have been a stronger swimmer that I, because he kept at it longer than I could have, but the fact remained - he couldn't keep swimming for ever.

And then - when all hope seemed lost - Wonder Woman came to the rescue!!!

Again, I didn't see most of this until the end, but I know what happened. She brought nothing but a small flotation device, abandoning everything else at the tower, and plunged straight into the water. She swam out to sea, not withstanding the current, until she reached the stranded swimmer. She gave him her floater to assist him and swam along beside him, urging him on and directing him where to swim, navigating the tretcherous underwater pulls until they were bothed brought back to shore. The deadly Riptide was defeated, and Wonder Woman saved the day!

You've deduced by now that this was not actually Wonder Woman, but a life guard. She emerged from the sea, soaking wet, and after ascertaining the safety of the rescued swimmer, returned directly to her tower, where she wrapped herself in a pink and green towel and once again looked out over the sea, watching. My father, talking with her earlier on, found out that this woman had to pass a series of tests in order to prove herself sea worthy enough, so to speak, to get the job. One was to swim about a quarter mile in the open ocean, against the current, with no floatation device to speak of.

See? Wonder Woman.

Perhaps one day they big creative imaginations that cooked up the Superman and Ironman and Spiderman movies will come out with a breathtaking, heart-stopping, box office hit Wonder Woman movie that will prove me wrong. For now, though, she's not at the top of my list. This lifeguard is. I didn't get a chance to speak with her, though I had intended to. The next time I turned around, another guard had taken her place. However, she will always be a Superhero in my eyes. Marvel's Wonder Woman, with only some shiny underwear and a nice sparkly title to her name, has got nothing on her. That single beach lifeguard was ten times better. Strong, brave, defending others against the upredictable pitfalls of the ocean, keeping the beaches safe one life at a time.

Spend a little time showing appreciattion to the everyday heros that are keeping the world safe and healthy and happy and peaceful every moment of every day. Superman and Batman can't hold a candle to the police officer who rescues a child or wife from abuse, or the EMT or doctor or nurse who forces life back into a heart that had stopped beating, or the teacher who elightens a stagnant mind, or the humanitarian worker who gives food and drink to a starving body. They are everywhere, always among us, saving us all...

One life at a time.

Signing off, my friends - til next we meet...

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