Friday, July 19, 2013

Stepping off the Board

My hometown in Southeast Missouri had a large community swimming pool when I was growing up, and each summer until my mom was convinced we could swim proficiently, my sister and I took swimming lessons. At the end of the short "leg" of the L-shaped pool there were 3 diving boards -- 1 very high board flanked by 2 much lower boards. Somewhere fairly early in the swimming lesson process, my class was given the opportunity to jump off the lower diving boards, with a couple of teachers in the water and lifeguards on duty. It took me at least 2 summers to work up to a leap from one of the lower boards. I had to force myself to walk out on the board; I chickened out and made the walk back to the safety of the concrete decking more times over those 2 summers than I can remember, but I did eventually jump. Eventually, I passed enough levels to earn the right to jump off the high dive. I wouldn't even climb the ladder!

That pool was demolished, the concrete removed, and dirt brought in to fill the huge hole left in its absence; it had become outdated and far too expensive to maintain, and now my hometown has just the pool (with a bubble in the winter months) that was built while I was in high school. It also has a high dive and flanked by 2 lower ones. I've never jumped from that high dive, either. Actually, I don't think I've even jumped from one of the lower boards.

Do I regret not jumping from those high diving boards? Not at all. I'm comfortable with the fact that I am not fond of heights (yes, that's a euphemism for "I'm afraid of them"), and jumping off a swimming pool's high diving board is not on my list of things to do in this lifetime.

But there are things on that list that I really want to do, and a few of those things are big, really big. So big that I stand here, just at the edge of the board, so very close to leaping into the air,  yet held back by all the unknowns, afraid of making a huge mistake.

Some books, some articles, some people bolster my courage, and I inch closer and closer to the edge. Then life's practicalities slap me in the face, and I back up quickly. But then I remember my dreams and how short life can be, and the inch forward begins again.

I want to make the jump -- I really do, and I look forward to the day when I can log on and share with you that I've done just that. Until then, I can only tell you that I took a fairly significant step toward the end of the board earlier this week. I'll keep you posted, of course.

What unfulfilled dreams do you have? Are there any major life changes you long to make? What holds you back? I hope you'll share. OR have you made a big leap of faith? I'd love to hear about your experience! And if you have any words of encouragement for those of us who are hovering there, right at the point of making a leap into a major change, I hope you'll share those as well!

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