There is a difference between people who swim with sharks
and people who get thrown overboard
because choosing to take risks isn’t the same
as being forced to.
No one chooses to drown unless they’ve been given a reason,
and this world, well, it’s one to reason with.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the ocean —
but I don’t love what lives there
and I’d rather not choose between it and dry land,
because picking sides is harder when neither side plays for you,
and we were taught that if we were picked last
it was because we didn’t deserve to be picked at all
like overripe apples that never got pulled from the tree —
too far gone to be worth anything at all.
They took the weight of our worth off our shoulders,
but what if that weight was all that was keeping us tethered?
In gym class everyone praises the fast kid
but people run faster when they’re being chased,
and not being fast enough is the scariest thing in the world.
We don’t always know what we’re running from
but sometimes not knowing is better.
If we burden ourselves with what follows behind,
what’s ahead will only seem farther away —
God knows the knowledge would only slow us down.
So we run.
And we swim.
And we keep breathing.
We cling to sodden life preservers and make friends with the sharks.
We pick life over, and over, and over again.
We might not always know why, but we always do
even when it feels as if the entire world wants to watch us drown,
we find life rafts.
There will always be life rafts.
Addy Strickland is a grade twelve student from Ottawa, Ontario. She is a dedicated activist, artist, and enthusiast of the written word — enjoying all forms of writing, but creating mainly fiction and poetry. Her plans for the future: studying and pursuing a career in international development and finding as many opportunities for travel as possible!