There is a lake here in Minnesota – well, to be honest, there are at least 10,000 of them, probably more – but there is one in particular not far from our house that my daughter loves to swim at. The big attraction for her is the raised dock about 25 yards from the shore. The dock itself is probably 8 feet high, plus there is a high diving board on the dock that allows her to plunge at least twice that distance to the water. That diving board terrifies me, but Martha loves it.
Last summer I decided that I should, at the very least, jump off the edge of the dock with her, simply to demonstrate that I am not entirely old and boring. Admittedly, I have my moments when I much prefer the old and boring behavior I call “relaxing,” but, like I said, I don’t want to get too comfortable in my old-ness and boring-ness. I know 8 feet may not seem like a stomach-turning descent to some folks. And it may be an overstatement to say it turns my stomach, but it’s enough to at least jostle it around a bit. It just makes me uncomfortable to look down at the water from that height and maybe that’s because my head is an additional 5 ½ feet higher than my feet, thus causing my eyes and brain to perceive a potentially 12- to 13-foot drop. I’m rationalizing.
Nevertheless, I was definitely going to jump. The thing I noticed about the act of jumping was how tense and rigid I was; I couldn’t figure out how to position my legs and my arms; my body felt unfamiliar falling through the air. Of course, my outstretched arms slapped painfully against the surface of the water and when I popped up my sister (also there with her children) commented on my “unique” form.
I’ve been thinking about that dock lately and how I really need to work on taking that leap with a different frame of mind. Instead of thinking so much about it, anticipating what it will feel like, how I will look and how my body is positioned, I’d love to be able to just go flying of the edge, let myself fall however I may, effortlessly into the cool water. Arms, legs, hands, feet, all parts can simply go limp and heavy into the air. I don’t have to be afraid and I don’t have to think about it. I should just go. And as soon as I surface, I need to climb back up the dock immediately and jump again. I need to keep jumping, again and again, until it feels completely natural.