My hands clasped tightly to the rails. “One step at a time,” I repeated under my breath. It seemed that with every step up, the laughter and splashing faded just a little more. It took me weeks to get this far, all the way to the top, and now I had not only to make it to the end, but to jump. If I were lucky, maybe I would slip and fall in.
The pool was a favorite hang-out, especially in the summer months under the sweltering Georgia sun. I wasn’t that great at swimming, seeing that our previous years were in Alaska and you just don’t get that excited for a dip in a cool pool when the outside temperature is -20F and your older sister tells you that your hair will “instantly freeze and break off the moment you walk outside with wet hair.” To my friends, jumping off the high board was no big deal. They jumped, dove, and flipped off it effortlessly.
Me? Not a chance. To me it was no play thing to assist in my joyful entry into the pool, but a pirate’s plank by which I would be forced at the end of a cutlass to walk off, and take my last gasping breath before being consumed by a bottomless sea.
Many times I climbed the ladder almost to the top, only to back down from this tower of doom. But I had to jump, the other kids had so much fun doing it, and I wanted in on the party. I’m not afraid of heights, never had been. It was the jump. It was the fact that my feet would have to leave anything solid, even if only for a brief moment. I would be out of control, completely at the mercy of the laws of physics and gravity.
I did finally scooch my way to the end of that board, only to stare at the water. The kid behind me yelled, “Jump in already!” and in turning to tell him to shut up, I lost my balance and fell off the end. After my body smacked the water, I thrashed my way back to the top, made my way to the side, and almost ran to the end of the line to do it again. You couldn’t keep me off it for the rest of the day.
I ran into this scenario again recently. See, I like to write, and I dabble a lot. I write on this blog, and I write short stories, but what I really want to do is write novels. Not 300 words, or even 3,000, but full on 80-115,000 word novels. Several years ago I had a great idea, even outlined it, met with a great friend who has published 5 novels and he loved the idea too. I’ve done everything but sit my butt in the chair and write it.
That is, until January 5th, 2012. That day, I started Chapter 1. It took me five long years to take that first jump and plunge into something that’s much bigger than I am. And my feet are off the ground, and I don’t know where I’ll land, but I do know one thing. I love it, and now that I have started writing it, I can’t stop!
The horrible thing about dreams and passions is that when you don’t pursue them, they haunt you and when you get to be an adult, there isn’t always someone behind you yelling, “Jump in already!” So let me be that person.
JUMP IN ALREADY!
Whatever it is that you dream of doing, that you can’t stop yourself from thinking about, just do it. Don’t waste years like I have, thinking of all the reasons it won’t work, just jump in. Once you do, I’m sure we won’t be able to keep you out of the water.