Your Words Matter

by : Ridgely Goldsborough

Amidst much groaning and moaning, we carried one of our two kayaks from the bayside of the key to the beach—two hundred yards of sweat and hand chafing. Loaded down with paddles and life preservers, we herded the kids to water’s edge.

Captain Linus on the bow, oarsman Dad behind him, first mate Camille next in line and oarswoman Mom at the stern—into the waves we surged.

After a few wobbly moments in the break, the crew settled. We began to scour the depths for the Gulf’s finest—cow rays, turtles, fish of assorted sizes and our family favorite—dolphin.

“Look, Momma," squealed Camille.

Two hundred yards offshore we spotted the gently undulating fins, rising and falling like the waves they glided through.

“Let’s go play with them," Linus called out.

We dug into the water and pulled away from the coastline.

At three boat lengths, we violated their comfort zone. Repeatedly they dove until we slowed behind them and gently kept pace.

Suddenly, the lead male leapt high into the sky, spun and crashed into a trough.

“Whoa," Linus yelled. “I want him to do that again."

“Ask him," Ali counseled. “Use your mind and make a wish."

I watched my son concentrate, gaze across the sea and softly say to himself:

“Come back and do another show. Come back and jump again."

And then they surrounded us, a pod of eight leapfrogging through the surf.

Once. Twice. Three times. Four soaring twirls, completely air born. Spectacular. Magnificent. They snorted hellos through their blowholes.

In all her years on this island, Ali had never witnessed anything so magical.

They swam on.

Wait. Linus craved more.

“Maybe another day," said Ali.

Armed with confidence and determination, Linus focused his attention.

“I’m gonna’ tell them again," he proclaimed. “One more show."

His brow fixed in thought, Linus mumbled to himself before looking up.

On the horizon, within seconds, a colossal vault, as if to salute us adieu, one final glimpse goodbye.

“Told you," Linus beamed, triumphant.

We could debate for hours the true influence of a child’s pure mind over a group of swimming mammals. I choose to believe in his charm and spell. You might draw a different conclusion.

One fact remains indisputable—the impact of a few emboldening words on one small boy’s beliefs.

He will face the world with his head held a tad taller and his shoulders slightly further back because of a mother’s encouragement—as would we all.

Fortunately, this phenomenon continues throughout adulthood.

Declarations of courage, expressions of spirit, pledges of the heart—every utterance bears a torch, lighting the way or burning it. Nothing sits in a vacuum.

We have much power to pick up a wounded soul, spur on a frightened yet hopeful comrade, challenge a friend to not give up.

Watch what comes out of your mouth.

Criticism damages far more than it heals.

Kindness builds. Insensitivity destroys.

Only three feet separate a pat on the back from a kick in the rear. One helps. The other hurts.

Which would you rather feel?

Your words matter.

On October 7th, that’s A View From The Ridge…