OPINION: Sea Lions and Second Chances

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The following was written by Erin Keck.

I was incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to hear Kevin Hines speak and tell his story right here in Sweetwater County.

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This man is one of the 1% or less who have survived a jump off the Golden Gate Bridge. Like many of the small handful of other survivors who have commented, as soon as he let go of the rail he felt instant regret.

It took the perfect series of circumstances to keep this man alive. He managed to survive the fall (a mere 2 millimeters difference in damage to his spine would have resulted in a different outcome).

Due to his injuries, he found himself unable to keep afloat for air. His thoughts in that moment were that he HAD to survive because otherwise no one would ever know that he changed his mind. He fought as hard as he could but was still losing that battle.

Then…a sea lion came to his rescue. A SEA LION. He bumped him back to the surface over and over so he could get air until he was rescued (at the time he thought it was a very nice shark).

A woman driving by had seen him jump and called her friend who was in the coast guard; he happened to be working that exact area and was able to get to his rescue.

Three pieces that could be described as nothing less than miraculous, fell into place to give a man a second chance.

Before jumping, he rode a bus to the bridge, and walked it back and forth for about 40 minutes, tears running down his face much of the time. He had resolved that if even just one person, just one, had asked him if he was okay or said something kind to him, he wasn’t going to jump.

Instead, someone poked fun of him on the bus, and the only person who said a word to him in the entire 40 minutes was a woman who asked him to take a photo for her (5 poses).

At the time his mind betrayed him. Convinced no one cared and that he was a burden, and driven by a voice he couldn’t drown out, he made that jump he instantly wanted to take back.

He now travels all over telling his story (even though he hates crowds). The immense amount of lives this man has been able to bring hope to is uncountable.

He was given a gift, and he turned around and shares that gift with everyone who is willing to receive it.

The challenges he faces against his own mind even still today I can’t even begin to fathom, and he has to work incredibly hard at it every single day.

As interested as I was in hearing his story, I almost stayed home, wanting to regain some energy after my trip.

A couple of days ago I happened to watch a video on YouTube. When it ended, it automatically started another called something like “5 amazing times animals rescued humans.” #5 was Kevin Hines and the sea lion. I went to hear him speak.

The biggest message I took from all of this? Paraphrasing his own words…

So often we make it all about us. We aren’t here for us. We are here for others.

Not to toughen them up, not to harden them to the darker aspects of this world.

Not to judge them for the difficulties they face in their lives just because they are different from ours.

But to be their hope, their light, and to be there to share a moment of kindness for someone who may desperately need it.