Off topic


These are my kids sitting at the edge of the water. You can’t see them but maybe 20 feet away there is a trio of seals that played in the ocean in front of us all day.

This is what I know about sharks.

  1. Shark attacks are rare but not unheard of. Not even on the Cape.
  2. The great white shark lives in the waters by the beach. I know because there were multiple signs telling me so.
  3. Sharks eat seals. So if you see a seal, there is a good chance that their natural predator is not far.

So my kids were sitting on the edge of the water because I was afraid. The signs made me afraid, and the seals made me afraid. But the kids were begging me to let them into the water.

I was thinking a lot about the family that lost a child to the alligator attack, and the family whose little boy fell into the gorilla enclosure.

I relented to my kids, of course, and let them go into the water. Because sitting on the edge of the beach is no fun when the ocean is calling you.

If there had been a shark attack, I’m sure I would have been roundly condemned on the internet. There were multiple warning signs, after all. I didn’t ignore the signs. I assessed the risk, and let my children swim.

Personally, I think the condemnation is a bit of a talisman for some people. A way to convince themselves that they would never be so foolish to let their child wade into a pond marked “Not Swimming” or turn their back on a child at the zoo.

But see, I don’t buy it. Because life is full of calculated risks and we make foolish decisions all the time. I think even people without children know its true. You don’t have a condom but you have sex anyway. After being out drinking with your friends, you get into your car figuring it is probably safe to drive. You just don’t feel like putting that bike helmet on.

And most of the time, it works out. Except for when it doesn’t. This isn’t the way they teach you to think in law school. In law school, you are taught: something bad happened then someone is responsible.

But I think, we’re all just really lucky. Sometimes you jump into shark infested waters because life isn’t about sitting at the edge of a beach.

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