Walking along the beach, I began to feel a magnetic pull from the rolling whitecaps 40 yards out. I staggered to where the water rushed over the sand in waves, and I froze. Watching wave after wave roll in, I stared out at the blue abyss until the wet sand began to collapse under my weight. The siren’s call beckoned me to keep walking out into the depths of the angry ocean. I could disappear and no one would notice. Or even if someone eventually did, it would be too late.
In those moments of quiet contemplation, I thought about my kids, my business, and what little I had left of my faith. I was a complete failure in each part of my life. Maybe everyone and everything would be better if I weren’t around. I closed my eyes and took another step into the waves. Then, another. As I descended into the swirling void, I felt an overwhelming sense of peace. It was as if the wrathful waves and tossing water were perfectly mirroring my inner turmoil. Even though I was getting pounded by the surf, the stress in my body suddenly clicked off like a light switch. I was prepared to keep pushing forward to a place from which I might not return.
I stood in the water with my eyes closed and my brain mentally checked out. Surrendering to my circumstances, I continued forward step by step. As the water surrounded me, I had no sense of time. Time is completely irrelevant when you’re ending your life. Submerged, I persisted forward and felt the water splash above my shoulders as my feet struggled to make contact with the ocean floor. As my head finally made it under the water, I just knew I would find the peace I was so desperately seeking. Instead, something very different happened.
Suddenly, I was scared as hell. My eyes exploded open with a shot of adrenaline as I coughed up salty water. My body was letting me know that I was lying to myself! I didn’t want to die. In actuality, I was terrified of death because I still had so much life left to live, even though my foggy mind could not see it. I turned my back on the raging waves and slogged my way to dry land.
When I got to the beach, I lay in the sand and stared up at the endless stars punching through the night sky. For a moment, the world felt very big and my problems very small. I realized that what I really wanted was to be a better man, father, and leader. That incident proved to me that if I didn’t make a change, I would die in Lexington, Ohio.