Saturday, June 9, 2012

Getting Burned

I once had an eleven-day career working as a cruise ship performer.  Would I do it again?  Sure.  As long as I can still have the complimentary crème brulee.

It was aboard this floating dessert tray, however, that I learned a big lesson by way of a HUGE mistake, one that I will certainly never make again on land or on sea.

At the time, I was reading Angels and Demons by Dan Brown.  It was our last sea day before getting off the ship, and the weather was a little cooler than it had been in the more southern parts of Mexico.  I was up on the deck, lounging, reading, picturing the architecture of the Vatican, when I looked down and saw that my body was pink.

Instantly, a rush of terror caused my stomach and heart to switch places.  Usually if I've been in the sun a little too long, it doesn't show up until after I shower.  But this!?  I was still outside!  How long had I been there?  Was the sun even out?  I thought it was behind the clouds!

Well, the next day I got off the ship with the entire front of my body badly burned, and the next four days were some of the most painful I can remember.  I applied aloe vera, took cold baths, sprayed that sticky Lidocaine stuff all over my midsection.  I even popped some Benadryl to help me sleep.

And though I can't exactly remember when I made the vow, at some point over those four days I promised myself that I would never again stay outside for prolonged periods of time without sunblock.  EVER.

Now while this experience was profound enough for me to still recall the most insignificant details (ie what I was reading at the time), I don't believe it sums up how I feel about the sun.  Nor do I believe my sunburn was indicative of everyone else's experience that day.  Not everybody got burned, but that doesn't mean they felt the sun any less.

I recently heard a wise man (and sometimes wise guy) talk about this very concept.  We all enjoy the warmth of the sun's rays.  Sometimes we're only aware of it subconsciously, but we all know it's there, because we'd all know if it wasn't.  We don't need to get burned by the sun to prove we're living in it.

Life lessons come at different times, places, and speeds.  Sometimes they're profoundly scorching.  Other times they're not.  And though "getting burned" may often seem like an exciting or effective way to learn a lesson, it is, by definition, just an experience: one that is no greater than any other precious time we're given.

So regardless of how many burns we may acquire in life, it's just as important to remember and seek out our simple days of warmth.  The sun may not seem as profound on those days, but it's still in the sky, bringing a gentle glow to every breath and step we take.

Sunburns are worth remembering, but warmth, dear friends, is worth repeating.

1 comment:

  1. I appreciate your outlook on this. . . a great reminder. . . and if you are in the mood for some crème brulee, come on over, I don't know if my recipe can compete with the cruise ship, but MMMM! YUMMY! :)