When I was sixteen I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and jumped — off Olympic Park’s high dive — into twelve feet of water far below. I still have no idea why. I’d never jumped off a high dive before; never particularly wanted to do. I was scared, sure, but once I found myself up there, towering above my friends — and the cute, though nameless blonde lifeguard off to my left — I jumped.
Except that I was 16 and female, I might have looked something like this young man:
Weeeeeeeee. From where I sit now, that does look like such fun. But back then I was riddled with fear. Yet, I jumped.
High dives have appeared metaphorically throughout my life. I don’t look for them. I don’t seek thrills, particularly. Indeed, I’d sum up my life more as a quest for security than adventure. But, while only that first jump was into a pool of water, a pattern is clear.
I seem unable to recognize a high dive from afar.
With each jump, I dutifully climb up the ladder, one foot in front of the other, blinded by love, determined to persevere, hell bent on doing the right thing, or just plain curious. Whatever the push, up I go, unaware that I’m even climbing a ladder until I gaze around from the top, surprised.
These jumps have, at various times, been filled with excitement, impatience or fear, but always there is the fixed belief that going back is not an option.
Whether I find myself at the edge of an actual diving board, in a job I no longer love, or the end of an empty marriage — all borders between old and new, familiar and strange — my default mode is to step forward, off and down into whatever comes next.
I’m sure I won’t die, that’s first; the water is always deep enough and I know I can swim. But how I will land, where I will land, and — the biggie — why the hell I’m jumping in the first place remained a mystery for most of my life.
I’ve never done a cost-benefit analysis and I can’t recall writing a single list of positives and negatives for any decision I’ve ever made.
Such was the case when my husband and I went into the Peace Corps in 2004.
This may not look like me jumping off a high dive, but it certainly was. Here’s my husband Woody and me at the airport on our way to Kazakhstan, June 2004. Trust me, this was a jump.
And such is the case today, with the launching of my blog. Off I go. Weeeeeeeeee.
How do you look at the high dives — the choices you’ve made to jump into something new, something unknown — in your life? What high dives have you jumped from? Have you ever turned around and climbed back down the ladder? Ever wish you had?