I was only 6 or 7 years old but the memory is still very vivid in my mind. My parents had enrolled me in swimming lessons down at the local pool. Yes, I know what just popped into your mind; “SWIMMING LESSONS FOR A ONE HANDED KID?” How? Let me just say – I can swim circles around most of you! Get it? HA HA. I do remember the thought crossing my mind that no one else in this class looks like me but it quickly passed as we began the adventure of learning to swim!
However, I took to water like a fish. Fortunately, my parents never allowed me to make any sort of excuse for my condition. They were not harsh about it but they were firm and they did possess a determined attitude that said nothing was going to keep me from overcoming whatever it may be that was in my path. Swimming was one of them. I can still see the look on my dad’s face when he told me I was going to take swim lessons and I was going to be the fastest circle swimmer the planet had ever known – well maybe he didn’t say that last part but you know what I mean.
The day finally arrived and I was more than excited to get in the water and learn how to swim. I wasn’t too concerned of what the others may have thought of me. Actually at this age it really wasn’t even on my radar. Isn’t it amazing that the older we get the more fearful we become of other peoples opinions? I will save that for another post. I quickly excelled in the class and remember eventually being one of only two kids that passed the class! I was thrilled to have conquered swimming and happy that I was able to move on to the next challenge.
There was one day that will live on in infamy, at least for me it will. In the process of the class we were told that before the lessons ended, each one of us were going to have to jump off the high dive in order to pass the class. The high dive! The dreaded giant of doom! I will never forget looking up at this behemoth each time we were in session. They must have been feeding it miracle grow because it seemed to get higher with each visit I made to the pool. I think at one point it even snarled at me as I looked up and viewed its light blue underbelly. It was like an elevated platform of death diving that laughingly mocked us as we shook in terror of the moment we knew was coming our way. It was torture having to walk by the blue-bellied beast knowing a day was coming where we would be asked to climb this tower to the heavens.
That day finally arrived! The day each child in my class had dreaded. The day we were called on to conquer our fear. One by one the instructor called our names and one by one we climbed out of the shallow end of the pool and made our journey to where goliath stood, defiantly challenging us to climb it’s cold metal steps and jump off the perilous plank into the dark abyss below. I remember the walk. I remember my instructor staying at the bottom of the steps as I climbed to my doom, no doubt thinking he may have to catch this one handed kid trying to climb.
I finally reached the top of the Mt. Everest diving board and with a look over to my parents and a look at the kids still wading in the shallow edges of the pool, I jumped. Well actually I flew or at least that is what it felt like. The fall was probably only a second or two but to me it felt like I had leaped off the Empire State Building. It was exhilarating! Amazing is more like it as I jumped and plunged into the welcomed arms of the water. For the rest of my life I will never forget that moment as I conquered the fear of the unknown.
Here is the sad part. There were those whose names were called, that never climbed out of the pool and made the journey to the high dive. They did nothing! They stayed in the shallow confines of the comfortable afraid to venture out on the edge and experience the thrill of flight! They ran to their parents or hid behind the towels near the changing rooms. They did nothing! As a result of my classmates doing nothing, staying frozen in the moment, they didn’t receive the award of passing the class and moving on to the next level.
This is LIFE! There is a danger in staying in the shallow waters never venturing out to discover what may be on the horizon that holds promise and potential. Some experience life just like this and let it pass them by and do nothing! Too many people live in the catacombs of fear, never stepping out and discovering what is awaiting them. Call it fear, insecurity, being shy – call it whatever you want but know this – you were never created to just sit and stay frozen by fear! You were called to climb mountains and overcome obstacles and change your world!
What is keeping you from climbing out? Why are you content to sit on the edge of the pool and watch others overcome the obstacles? It is time you took action and took a step toward your fear. Don’t be afraid to climb out there on the edge and jump. Who knows – you may discover you can fly!!