The edge of the board
Thirty cold, wet, white plastic stairs. You’re grasping the shiny chrome handrails, careful to hang on with each step up. As you rise higher in the air you get a whole new perspective on the landscape and your friends on the concrete pool deck below. You’ve seen others go off the public pool high dive, but this is your first time. The butterflies are swirling in your stomach as you slowly walk out to the edge, trying to avoid bouncing the fiberglass board too much beneath your feet.
Everyone is watching as your toes curl over the edge, grasping for a grip. You know you can’t walk back down now. Embarassment can be worse than physical injury when you are a kid. You know that feeling in your stomach just before you do something hard for the first time? It’s part adrenaline and part uncertainty and actually feels more like bumblebees than butterflies. At least it did for me.
And yet… I jumped.
I wanted to go head first like my friend before, but I changed my mind in mid-air. My feet pointed down along with my arms, causing my stomach to smack the water with an audible slap. Even under water I could hear the crowd groan in pain for me. I swam all the way to the shallow end under water, hoping no one would see where I came up.
I touched the wall and stood up, expecting to see a crowd of laughing teenagers. I was surprised to see something entirely different… an outstretched hand. It was my buddy offering to help me out of the pool. “Nice try dude. Open your eyes next time.”
That little bit of support made it possible for me to get back up and try it again. And again. And again.
This happens to us over and over throughout our lives. Every time we attempt something new we are going to learn some things the hard way. The trick is to not let the hard lessons keep us from getting back up on the board. And when that moment on the edge of the board is especially tough… scan the crowd to find the friend who believes in you.
Image by Norman Rockwell