My grandson, Noah, has always been a bit shy and awkward. He had difficulty swallowing certain textures as a baby, refused to walk on grass or any un-smooth surface as a toddler, and began speaking much later than most kids because of a condition known as dysphasia. His sister, two years younger, has almost always been taller and for a long time more coordinated than Noah. All of these factors contribute to Noah’s timidity and lack of confidence.
A couple years ago we were all in the family pool, having a great day. There were kids jumping in, kids on floats, kids going underwater, and then there was Noah. He was standing at the edge of the pool- his goggles foggy and making his ears flap down. And he was crying. He kept repeating that he couldn’t jump in, he was too scared, that Sarah could do it and she was only 4. I tried to coax him in but to no avail. He wouldn’t jump to me or jump with me. He just stood there crying and complaining. Just go down the stairs, get in the pool, and have fun– that’s what I told him. I added that it was no big deal, he didn’t ever have to learn how to jump in if he didn’t want to. “But I want to jump,” he said. I gave up and started playing with the other kids.
Sometime later, out of the corner of my eye, I saw Noah go for it. He made the tiniest jump possible into the pool, barely making a splash and bobbing up quickly because of the ring around his waist. He yelled to me, “Nana– did you see that?” “Yes!! Wow, Noah– you were brave! You jumped in!” And the rest of the day he continued to jump in. With the ring, then without the ring. With goggles, then without goggles. Standing as close as possible and dropping in just at the wall, then running and leaping several feet in. Twirling while jumping. Cannonballs. Even a few unplanned belly flops. Later he told us that it had been his best day ever. And he said it with a huge smile on his freckled face.
Each of us will go through at least one time in our lives when we are like Noah was that day. We will be standing on the side of something bigger than ourselves, something uncertain, something scary. We will see others that have gone before us– those who have let courage and determination swallow up fear and have jumped in with at least a measure of abandon. We will so desire to become airborne, if even for just a fraction of a second, and to plunge into the depths of the unknown.
At these times, however, we are more aware than ever of our inadequacies and past failures. The whispers in our heads become loud and frequent– reminding us that we could get in to all sorts of danger, that we could drown. There will be people around us that do not understand, naysayers who attempt to keep us safe and secure. But our hearts and souls will yearn for new adventure, new challenges, a freedom we’ve not known. How long will it take us to decide? If we just continue to stand by the side we’ve already made a decision. You can’t try to jump, not really– you just have to j-u-m -p! Jumping takes commitment.
How about you? Are you contemplating going back to school, having a child, pursuing a long-time dream, starting your own business? Consider the possibility- the probability, rather– of success. See yourself as the master of your destiny. Count regret for taking the comfortable and easy path as more deadly than any fear you currently have. Whether it’s a big splash, or hardly a splash at all– GO FOR IT!!