I think I can. I think I can. I think I can. I think I can. –Watty Piper, The Little Engine That Could
Last weekend our friends invited us to their pool for the afternoon. We told our boys ahead of time that this “new pool” has a high dive and they could barely contain their excitement. When we walked up to the entrance and they finally saw the high dive, in the concrete flesh, they jumped and cheered and ran in circles like our pug when he chases his semi-curly tail. Can we go? Can we go? Can we go?
Oh the agony of adult swim!
The six-minute countdown was on and they stared at the clock, willing the second hand to go faster. Can we go? Can we go? Can we go? Eventually the lifeguard blew the whistle and the kids lined up at the ladder and began their ascents.
They didn’t even hesitate like I thought they would. They just went for it.
They walked to the end, looked out at the water below, gave a last minute glance to those of us on the deck cheering them on, and jumped. They threw their bodies into the air and their fears into the wind. They touched the clouds.
It was kind of amazing.
Because I expected some jitters and a few trips back down the ladder. I expected long pauses at the end of the board. I expected a one-and-done experience, maybe even a one-and-done-and-never-again experience.
But instead they kept going, over and over again, for hours. They climbed, they ran, they jumped. They never wanted to stop.
Except, of course, when one tried a “twister” and hit the water in a big back-flop. Then it was time for towels and tears and hugs.
My boys surprised me that day. More importantly, they taught me a lot about life.
Because life is like a high dive.
Life has climbs and planks and a lot of bounce. Life is scary but also exhilarating because it is so scary. Sometimes we keep going, over and over again. But sometimes we have to take breaks like vacations and naps and adult swims.
Life has risk and reward and choices. Sometimes we decide to turn around and return to where we started. But sometimes we take leaps of faith. We may surprise ourselves. We may surprise everyone.
Sometimes there are soft landings. But sometimes we flop and it stings. And then we cry and need a hand out of the water.
Thankfully, if we’re lucky, we have people on deck. They are the holders of the towels, the people who love us and encourage us no matter how big a splash we make, no matter how many times we screw up, and no matter how many times we turn around and go back down the ladder. They stand ready and they aren’t afraid to get wet.
Life is like a high dive, full of fun and fear and second chances. Sometimes we wince. But sometimes we soar.
Life is kind of amazing that way.
To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. And number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special. -Jim Valvano