Voices and What I’m not

Last night, I was the announcer at a swim event.

What little I know about swimming, I’ve absorbed over the last year. Not because I’m a fan of swimming or because I’m a big sports fan but I’ve learned it because my daughter likes swimming. I take her to practices. I take her to meets. I get her fins and a snorkle. Along the way, I’ve pick up a little. Precious little. Is that freestyle? I think so…

Emails kept going out from my daughter’s swim team: we need help! It’s the big event they host once a year and they needed people. Finally, I caved. I looked at what needed to be done and signed up to be an announcer.

Last night, people kept coming up to me —are you the announcer? with a shade of awe in their voice— and complimenting me on how good I was doing.

Tonight, I volunteered for an anonymous position: safety guy: make sure kids arn’t doing stupid dangerous stuff. We wander around the pool and through the locker rooms in an orange vest. I suspect it’s about keeping the insurance company happy. I know it’s about as anonymous as you get. The kids see the orange vest and stop doing what they already know they’re not supposed to do. Everyone else ignores us. It’s like a Romulan cloak: you’re invisible. People look right through you unless you’re “shooting”.

Exactly one person sought me out tonight. The head ref asked were you the announcer last night? You know you’re an anonymous red shirt (to harken back to Star Trek) when the question is phrased that way.

Once I said yes, the compliments flowed. And, yesterday, I heard compliment after compliment about how I did. Many were from people I didn’t know, have nothing to gain, and, odds even, will never see again.

My life’s been interesting. There are many things I’ve done. And some of those I’ve done well. I’ve worn the programmer hat. I’ve been the computer fixer. I’ve sat on boards. I’ve trimmed trees. I’ve loaded trucks. I’ve been this. I’ve been that. But, there only seems to be one that really connects with people.

Last week, a counselor had me take a personality test that put me in a four capital letter box. My box is INFP. The official shorthand is healer. I looked at the description and I thought Shaman. It’s a voice of sorts.

Last night, it wasn’t that I really knew anything about swimming. It was that I understood what needed to be said and I said it.

A chapbook of my poems was called Voices: Painting with Words. A friend, Dick Sevrens read the book and called me a prophet. I’m not about to claim I’m a burning bush but I keep seeing what needs to be said and saying it.