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Hugh Manatee

The happenings of the past month have been a mishmash of chaos swirling together to create something oddly cohesive. Personally, I love when that happens, sort of like it was always meant to be. Who doesn’t like signs from the universe that seem to nudge us along the path we’re meant to follow?

Okay, so perhaps that was a rhetorical question. Maybe you despise it, seeing signs all around you, and that’s all right, but I find it fascinating when our minds piece together unrelated information into something that actually makes sense. Like it’s proof that everything in this world is interconnected in a positive way.

I was chatting with a fellow community member over this past month via email. Our discussion touched on the fact that life has a way of throwing us curveballs, requiring us to adapt, on so many different fronts. Little did I know those adapting skills would be showcased shortly after that conversational exchange.

It’s been a desire for my son to swim with the manatees ever since he was a toddler. He’s now officially graduated from his teenage years, so it was high time we made good on that lifelong goal. I suppose the universe was nodding its virtual head in approval by donning us with temperatures in the 40s on the morning of our planned expedition in Crystal River, FL. Wetsuit or not, that water was cold, and it felt even more frigid after getting out of the water and back into the boat that carried us to where all the magic occurred.

When you’re floating alongside those gentle sea cows, it’s simply awe-inspiring. To recognize that your entire human body can rest atop one manatee’s tail is confounding. The sheer magnitude of their physical form coupled with their docile nature leaves me without words. Seeing the scars on their backs from wayward boat propellers and finding them present in these inland waters at all is a testament to their ability to—you know what I’m going to say, right—adapt.

It provides a segue from this experience to the next one. It’s not often one can transition from manatees to baseball, but that’s exactly what we’re going to do. Looking for unique opportunities to do something new as father and son while he was home for spring break, I was able to secure a pair of tickets to a New York Mets spring training game about an hour south of our home in Port Saint Lucie, FL. After consuming a foot long hot dog that was much more than needed, we settled into our seats and noticed something peculiar behind home plate: a timer. After every pitch, it would reset to 15 seconds. I didn’t realize that a pitch timer had become part of a new rule change in the upcoming MLB season. It was eye-opening and unexpected, causing a decided shift in the pace and tone of the game. Personally, I’m not sure I actually like it, but the point here is that each of the players needed to—yep, I know you’ve already said it before I can write it down—adapt.

The real irony around these experiences is the way they meld together. You see, we actually had a minor league baseball team, who played in Space Coast Stadium less than a few miles from our home. What was their team's name, you might ask? Brevard County Manatees. And who was the mascot? A large stuffed sea cow named Hugh Manatee.

They’re gone now, replaced by a softball organization that runs huge tournaments throughout the year. It’s not the same, but alas, just like those manatees in Crystal River and those baseball players in Port Saint Lucie, we have been forced to adapt.

It can be an uncomfortable thing and one that challenges us to adjust our path forward, but it’s all a part of that world we live in, recognizing that change might be inevitable, but it may also lead to something better, if we fully embrace our Hugh Manatee.


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