BEWARE OF FALLING COCONUTS
COCONUTS KILL PEOPLE TOO
And not like peanuts—the poisonous assassins of grade school sandwiches that make their deadly intentions known early on, leaving genetically-screwed victims clutching Epipens and hyperventilating over their shoulders. No, coconuts dangle idyllically, hanging symbols of tropical relaxation (admittedly appropriated by the health food industrial complex, whipped and chained alongside the bedraggled bodies of quinoa and kale), until they fall from the sky, milk-swollen bullets speeding from heaven’s arbitrarily aimed barrel, dropping unsuspecting beachgoers at random, leaving them splayed out seaside like typical towel toters, the only difference a lack of breath and red river of blood flowing from skull to sand.
The swaying palm tree, peaceful as it seems, is a smoking gun. Coconuts kill people. Consider the facts: a palm tree can top out at 90 feet, and its bulging fruit can weigh over 3 pounds—you don’t need a masters in physics to comprehend the coconut’s deadly potential. Had Sir Isaac Newton been vacationing in one of colonial Britain’s tropical outposts instead of a dreary English orchard and fate swapped a coconut for that infamous apple, the young scientist’s first would’ve been his only law.
Let the gravity of that sink in. And if life truly is, as they say, a beach, then how do we navigate this beautiful battleground, how do we dodge these unpredictable projectiles? Because coconuts are falling, everyday, whether or not we’re drinking pale Mexican lagers beachside. Cancer, aneurysms, car crashes, freak accidents — these coconuts of providence careen into the sands of our lives, sometimes so faraway we barely recognize their reverberations; sometimes flaming meteorites so close they singe our cheeks, snatching those we love without reason; sometimes they crack open our own skulls and Death greets us without so much as a handshake.
A risk-averse person might avoid this beach completely, opting to lock the doors and shutter the windows—preferring screensaver palm trees to the real thing. But Death doesn’t knock on doors, he kicks them down. He doesn’t always fold when you make safe bets; he collects the pot, dragging it across casino green velvet with a sharpened scythe—because no matter how you gamble, the house always wins.
This isn’t a call to to go all-in recklessly, to be careless, to risk it all without worry, to stand under a fruit-heavy palm in a hurricane with your eyes closed until Chicken Little’s prophetic chirps turn true. Rather, it’s a question: at what point do we accept that a cannonball to the cranium will come calling? When do we trade that stale Ken Burns loop of paradisiacal screensavers for the sting and salt of the ocean, for suncracked lips, for waves that deliver terror and ecstasy in the same sublime thunderclap?
Coconuts kill people. Yet, despite this truth, we’ve been conditioned to forget half of the palm tree’s being: it’s not only a giver of life, but a master of death. And we’d be foolish not to realize that we’re drawn to the sea because it operates with the same duality—it bestows life and takes it away in the same breath.
Death twirls a slingshot in one hand, tosses a coconut up and down in the other. And while we can’t stay his hunger—the one guarantee gifted to us at birth—we can choose either to fruitlessly hide from him in the shadows, living a half-life in the process; or we can walk boldly through a tunnel of palm fronds into the sunlight, acknowledging the salt-stained signs nailed into the tree trunks that read, with biblical solemnity, “Beware of Falling Coconuts,” and go surf—realizing that risk isn’t necessarily a defiance of death, but a celebration of life—grinning in the face of the fragility, the impermanence, the randomness of it all.