When I was in grade school, my Mom insisted that I take swimming lessons at summer day camp. She had never learned how to swim and wanted me to master this ability so that my life would be enhanced.
The swimming lessons were fine, but the intro to the lessons scared me deeply, and cast a pall of anxiety within me as I anticipated each upcoming class. This is because I had some rather mean spirited instructors who would not allow us to get into the water without first jumping in. And jumping into the pool was terrifying for me. Seeing my anxiety, they would simply pick me up and toss me into the water, resulting in much choking and burning sinuses on my part as water got way up my nose.
(perhaps this was a metaphor for life for me at the time.. my natural way was to take it easy and slowly down the ladder rather than jump blindly in.)
My personal transformation occurred when I was 13. That summer, all the fear I had about jumping in to the pool transformed itself into a fascination and fixation with the experience. I chose to try the low diving board, suspended about 5 feet over the water. My first jump was a true rush and I was hooked after that.
After my first fateful jump my entire swimming pool experience centered around that diving board, and contributed to two magical, mystical summers.
By my 14th year, the diving board experience took on an almost heaven-like quality. It was 1966, and the radio was filled with artful, innocent and frequently joyful pop songs.. Tunes such as "Along Comes Mary" by the Association, "Windy" by the same group and "I Saw Her Again" by the Mammas and Pappas as well as the song "Live for Today" leaped off the radio and through my mind repeatedly.
My entire afternoon, almost every afternoon that summer consisted of waiting in line to go off the diving board, savoring the gusty wind upon my water cooled body, listening to the pop songs broadcast on the PA system, and gazing into cauliflowery white clouds floating in deep blueness. In the background, like a droning note, the hushed roar of voices crowding the swimming pool provided peace.
The next summer, 1967, I was ready to take on a new challange... to try the high dive, that board way up there suspended 10 meters over the water. I felt quite intrigued as I watched people bounce and drop off, frequently doing "cannon balls" and raising tremendous splashes at that end of the pool. My spirit beckoned me more and more each day until I finally surrendered.
I picked a day right after it rained and the pool was quite empty. With determination yet timidlness I climbed up the stairs to the top, a destination seemingly perched somewhere in the heavens. With each step, I could feel my anxiety grow more and more.
Once I reached the top of the board, terror set in. I made the mistake of looking down, and suddenly that bouncing which felt so sensuous on the low dive, sent chills throughout my body. I began to turn around and walk towards the ladder, but with the last ounce of determination, I turned back around to try again.
The bouncing increased; the board felt so narrow and insignificant, and my terror increased exponentially.
Just as I once again turned around to meet with the safety of the ladder and to climb down, the lifeguard perched there at the 9 foot end of the pool motioned for me to turn back around and jump in.
To make a long story short, I stood like a frightened bird on that high dive, pacing and bouncing involuntarily in pure terror. From time to time, the lifeguard would motion for me to jump. Time passed.. 20, 30, 45 minutes..
Meanwhile, more and more people arrived at the pool as the sun came out and temperatures quickly warmed back to usual summer levels.
Before long, and hour had passed and I was still there, my mouth as dry as leather from panic, my body feeling paralyzed almost invisible on this present -day gang plank, seemingly perched to look at death right in the face.
A huge line of kids gathered below me, waiting to go off the high dive. They grew increasingly impatient, cat calling me to jump off, get moving, etc. The life guard with a smirk on his face kept motioning for me to jump with ever increasing frequency. I felt totally stuck in a hopeless situation.
Suddenly a very attractive girl who I had a crush on at that time jumped into the 9 foot end of the pool. She waved her arms and beckoned me to jump in. My focus with equal suddenness shifted to merge with that sweet and beautiful girl who was calling out to me to join her in the water.
Effortlessly, my body lifted from the board and I felt my self tumbling, seemingly for an eternity. Just as suddenly, my feet stingingly hit the water, my head went under, then when I emerged - the entire population surrounding that pool, probably hundreds of kids were cheering and hooting. What an experience it was, to listen to the bubbling water fade from my ears and be replaced by loud cheers!
Having succeeded once, I wanted to try again. So I stood in line, and as the memory of the cheering still filled my heart, I ascended to the top. This time, I merely took a run for the end of the board and jumped off,. tumbling with a fearful rush into the water. I did it!
Undoubtedly, one could read into this many powerful spiritual lessons and metaphors. I will leave that up to you, and you are welcome to submit a comment with your thoughts on spiritual metaphors exist here.
In any event, one message is that when we find ourselves in a time of paralysis and panic, stuck in a no-win situation, sometimes a powerful and unexpected ally will step in and inspire us forward. This is something to consider as we flow along the path to attaining our life goals and dreams.