Pity The Imbecile Among You

by Step on July 19, 2011

Dawn over Lake GininderraI grew up in the deep South. All my life I’ve been surrounded by “good Christian folk”. Some of this rubs off, so of course I consider myself pretty well acquainted with the basics tenets of Christianity. It’s widely known the Ten Commandments are a foundational element of southern spirituality. It occurs to me upon reflection that the people in my life must have seen an eleventh commandment in the list. Namely, “Pity the imbecile among you that he may live”.

My life has been a repeating pattern of impulse and grace. An idea, an urge and I commit! The slightest breeze of whimsy sends me into irrevocable action. God bless the kind souls who’ve loved me enough to clean up afterwards.

At Scout camp one summer someone suggested I sign up for the mile swim. “Don’t worry”, they said “you’ll build up to it over the course of the week”. Never mind that I barely passed the swim test, it sounded adventurous. In a demonstration of solidarity my Scoutmaster signed up with me.

We swam laps before breakfast , increasing the distance each day. If you’ve never had the pleasure of putting on wet swim trunks at 6:00 a.m., add it to your bucket list immediately! Then scratch through it with a permanent marker and burn the list. These days, school children are shown grim videos in an effort to prevent such self-destructive behavior.

On the morning of the big swim, a dozen or so of us jumped off the pier and began long, slow laps to a buoy in the middle of the lake. After an hour or so, I was the only swimmer still in the lake. When I finally finished, my scoutmaster, who’d had time to change and make it to the chowhall for breakfast, greeted me at the bank with a large bottle of ice-cold Gatorade. To this day that bottle of Gatorade makes the top five list of best things to cross my lips.

When I was hired to work at another camp the following summer, I signed up for lifeguard training. After all, what could be harder than swimming a mile? Holding a ten pound diving brick above your head while treading water continuously for sixty seconds, apparently. But my fellow camp staff were supportive. They encouraged me to keep attending the class and learn the parts I could. I tried again the next summer and made it.

Then of course there was the time I moved across country to work my way into a year-round job at camp. Yes, yes the camp director herself was a part-time employee but surely when they saw what a great worker I could be they would hire me! (Listening to Rush Limbaugh had bolstered my sense of economic self-determinism.) Once again the people around me reached out with patient kindness. This time protecting me from death by starvation and loneliness. Ten years later I would direct the camp.

New acquaintances of mine should read this as a sort of disclaimer. Proceed with caution.

To old friends, may this serve as an overdue note of appreciation. Your kindness keeps my stories from ending tragically. Thank you for your friendship. You are dear to me.

To all of you, this is an invitation.

A familiar breeze is blowing.

Who’s up for an adventure?

Photo courtesy of Dallas75

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Gwen July 19, 2011 at 9:27 am

Step, what a great lesson in determination, belief in self, and surrounding yourself with a strong support group when the first two falter. Thank you!


Step July 19, 2011 at 4:22 pm

Thanks! And thank you for playing such a key role in my support group! 🙂


Allison Ladner July 19, 2011 at 3:10 pm

uh oh! 🙂


Step July 19, 2011 at 4:23 pm

Yeeeess! And this one’s going to be even better than a Fairy Princess Tea Party! Let me know if you want in. 😉


Allison Ladner July 20, 2011 at 4:49 pm

I’d love to see how you plan to top the Fairy Princess Tea Party. Seems kind of impossible to me.


darby logan July 19, 2011 at 5:42 pm

A smile emerges on my face, and I feel comforted that there is another soul just like me! It is fun and hard being me. 🙂 Darby


Aunt Rere (Rita Brown) July 20, 2011 at 5:06 pm

Step, we just bought a house with a pool. Thing is …I can’t swim! I am determined to learn how to swim before my 55 birthday. You inspire me to get my courage up and try (again)! I’d better get busy…my birthday is October 17th. Pray for me! I have a lot of respect for you and The Boy Scouts!


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