The things I learn ...
Rambling about the art of making little magical moments.
I have been known to wine that I have written a hundred “last Chapters.” And, I seem to find myself on some other new remarkable encounter with so another extraordinary ordinary person. I could make another short book of short stories about notable moments with ordinary people, but I must finish this one first. With that I think I’ll share with you the moment that I realized I was here to do this simple thing, to draw smiles, for a reason.
I was recently performing at an event. Caricaturist and storyteller role. I draw smiles. I was there to draw a crowd of happiness at a Bat Mitzvah. The father is a City Leader and a brilliant orator. His wife, the genius child's' mother, is also an artist and a brilliant visionary herself. The family is full of brilliant geniuses. All of them excel in all their streams of life. It is always a joy to share little moments of laughter with everyone in the family. Families like this one, my work becomes my honor. I love these people. From the immigrant Slovakian Great Grand Parents. Jewish immigrants were running from persecution to the generations of youth dancing and playing on a foundation of heritage. This family not only met my travel per diem as expected, but they spoiled me like a Diplomat. My accommodations at The Southernmost House Hotel were simply exquisite. Here is their website https://www.southernmosthouse.com I loved reading the Hemingway letters on the wall while eating breakfast there. Did you know; I’m speculating by observations, but did you know that e more he ranked, the more slanted his handwritings became on the pages? There were ending at a 45° angle on some letters. Great stuff.
Now that work is over, it is time to play. I’ve learned the cost of adding the kayak to the top of my 27-year-old suburban (’91 Last year of the simple barn door box backed suburbans.) I’ve learned that taking an extra day on the way home and paddling in the natural areas of the place of work is minimal. The kayak is light and is no more weight than a passenger. There are no fees to “putting in water.” The only fuel you need to purchase is what you eat. Live bait is always a luxury option. I like to buy bait from the small independent vendor, rather than the marinas. It’s a character thing.
So off I go, adventure time in the Keys. The greatest fishing, diving, snorkeling, playing in the water, in the North American continent. Again, I am an extraordinarily thankful and blessed individual. I love drawing smiles, and nature. I like to fish, I can survive under a hot sun. And I can’t wait to get on the water in my Kayak. I got trail mix and sandwiches and water, lots of water.
Not much different than Santiago in Hemingway’s “Old Man and the Sea,” I too had the adventure of a lifetime. Well, only there was no great catch of a legendary fish, nor was I fighting off bad luck, but I had the adventure to date since I began kayaking. In the video attached you’ll learn that it so happened to be an air show at the Key West Naval station at the same time that I was to enjoy my day of smooth, silent paddling in the Key West waters. This video attached is also the last communication my wife would have from me for the next 20 hrs. I was to be home by 11pm in Orlando. I got home at 3 in the morning. Here’s what happened….
There is a video posted on my Instagram page. That relates to all of this.
If the link does not work, on Instagram I'm TytheArtGuy. You'll find it.
Here is what happened after that video was posted. I decided to go with it and accept that on occasion today there would be loud disruptions of fast fighter jets showing off throughout the day. Like, Duval street with people during festival time, but different. The waters here are so perfect that I considered it a welcomed coincidence. The air show and my tranquil all day paddle in the keys. An excellent paddle adventure I had up and in and around these mangrove Islands. Paddling in the shallows gives you a perfect view of life on the ocean floor. A variety of grasses and sea life, types of coral, invertebrates and unusual creations. Sea cucumbers, snails, nurse sharks, young barracudas, rays, and small damsels, and snappers. The list goes on. Then the current trench that snakes through all of these keys is so deep, and well defined by both sides towering walls of coral. Divers go up and down these walls of coral reefs all day long. I’d position myself from the trench wall and the current and wind in such a way that I’d drive across the flats on top f the channel containing walls, hoping to catch a barracuda snacking in the flats. And as mentioned, the roar of powerful fighter jets scream through the air.
As luck would have it, by the time the Blue Angels were to appear and do their show, I drifted into a chain of mangrove islands that just happened to be in the flight path of the Blue Angels show. I was not aware of this until it was too late. You see, I parked the kayak under the shade of the mangroves. Seeking shade from the 3 o’clock sun is a big deal. You take what you can get. I could hear the Blue Angels screeching and flying around at the air show, off and on. I got out my phone to see if I could add more video to my wife feed. She would love the air show, more than the kayaking. I wanted to show off since she decided not to come with me on this trip. I wanted her to see what she was missing, so I got out my phone and started taping a video. I selfied and told her how much I missed having her on my adventures with me. I showed as much as I could of my beautiful natural surroundings. I bragged about everything my weekend had been. Brilliant, joyful, kind, and beautiful. And then I heard the Blue Angles again. I started panning the sunny blue sky with the phone, searching for them. Then in an instant two Blue Angels flew over my head. They came from my direct backside overhead at such a high rate of speed and so low that I was pushed by their pressure cone and capsized my kayak. The pressure zone (Wikipedia it) hit me so quickly that I had no idea. It was like Zeus snapped his fingers, and then I was flailing my arms and legs, splashing about, searching for grounding and not drowning the 4 feet of water. The bottom of the bay was soft. About up to my knees in soft sandy decomposed ocean suet. The crystal clear sea water was now a milkshake of soft sand, micro bits of decomposed plants, animals, shells and coral. I dropped my phone and frantically began searching the deep muck I stood in with my hands. Ducking my heading this murky soup to reach the bottom with my hands. Thus causing more murky soup mixing to the point, it looked like the beginning of a pancake batter. I accepted my loss and bellied myself onto the kayak. Drenched and in shock from “how did that happen? What Happened? “ moment. I reached for my paddle. What paddle? That's right, I also lost my paddle. I frantically searched for it. There was no sight of it. The surface and the murky pool of muck I was surrounded had hidden it from me. I was so frantic that I capsized a second time. This time it’s all on me. I should have known better. So I bellied up on the kayak again and this time stayed on my belly and began to paddle back to where I put in, just off of A1 about 2 miles away. This paddling by hand return was much slower than I wished for and by the end of the day, I made it back to the shore. I found some guys fishing under the bridge and asked them if I could send a message to my wife. They laughed after I told my story and handed me a phone. I sent an email because the number for Crystal in my mind is “Hey Siri, call Crystal.” I have now written all the significant phone numbers on a piece of paper and laminated it and put it in my wallet. Just because. After the message sent saying I’m okay and on my way, I felt relieved and began my 8-hour journey home.
Meanwhile, Crystal never received the message of "I'm okay and safe and traveling home." At some point, we’ll get her to pipe in her side of this adventure. And while I’m on the subject, I want to make it clear that none of this would have happened had she accepted her invitation to join me on this trip. The agent event went out of her way to get us a prime Key West Weekend getaway room. The event and the room were at the Southernmost House Resort. The room was a second-floor room that overlooked the pool and the ocean from the southernmost round current. My shower had 4 massaging shower heads. I know, she really missed out of a weekend of relaxing bliss. Not to mention she could have had the biggest “Told you so” on video had she come with me.
As I was saying, she has another perspective on this story that I should let her share. I will say this till her input arrives, that she was distraught when I got home at 3 am. 4 hours from my expected time of arrival. Not angry, but upset because I died, kind of upset. Oh, mercy I felt horrible for her, and how could I have thought the message never came through to her that I was okay? I always assume so much, in favor of the woodside of things. She does too, but as I progressively became late, so did her assumptions of my fate take a nosedive into the dark depth of possibilities. Most probably scarier than the deep channel trench that snakes through the hundreds of keys. Like I dais earlier, her perspective of this adventure something to hear. Together we are hilariously in love. Our tales of our lives together intertwine like a 4 part harmony song. It's one of the reasons we are so good at our “Vintage Verse” performances. Vintage Verse is an event act where she writes Haiku’s for your guests on an old typewriter and me, if not drawing Caricatures, will put a little ink drawing to your haiku, known as Hagia.
When I did capsize and finally accepted my safety on the kayak without a paddle, I laughed. I pondered a few things the Rabbi told me the night before this moment. We laughed, and he gave me some advice on gaining and learning patience. How appropriate. And of course, Crystal will claim I’m just clumsy. I got smiles to draw, y’all have a beautiful week. Please and thank you, Ty.
From Ty Walls:
After four decades drawing smiles I often encounter remarkable people. I've learned to create little special moments for people from all around the world with my simple smile-drawing skills. But sometimes, life creates little magical moments for me. This blog is my attempt to share them with you.