I stood looking out over the water and wanted to swim.
But I was afraid…
… Afraid because it wasn’t my beach (neighboring community).
… Afraid because the early morning light only illuminated the first few feet and the river looked black under such a bright morning sky.
… Afraid because I didn’t know what lay beneath.
… Afraid that I was breaking rules.
… Afraid someone would come and yell at me.
But I took off my shoes and I took those first few steps. Minnows darted away from their previously undisturbed breakfast hour, and the sandy mud sucked my feet in. I felt the fear rising up in my chest. Irrational, but overwhelming, choking me a little.
Was I really afraid of a confrontation with an angry resident for trespassing on this beach? Or was it the fear I always wrestle with… What will people think? Will I be “in trouble”? So I moved faster and when it was just barely deep enough, I dove.
The water was much warmer than I thought it would be. The river holding the warmth of our hot July days and wrapping me in its familiar, weightless embrace.
I swam straight out into the open river and stopped in the middle to watch the birds of prey fishing and calling to each other. I watched the sun push past the clouds and break out into the morning sky like it was waiting for me to push past my barriers so it could push past its own.
I didn’t stay long. There’s never much time and it always goes too quickly. But I walked away feeling baptized. New.
I emerged from the water a woman who was just a tiny bit braver. Just a tiny bit less afraid.
There are parables here for my career journey and my life journey, but I’ll save the novel for another day.
This morning, I walked out of that water with this:
In seasons of change and growth, it feels like everything is black water on an unfamiliar beach. “Be scared and do it anyway”. Just dive in.
“Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” (Mark Twain)