Back in the 1970s, seemingly before child safety was invented, kids could partake in all kinds of crazy activities (riding in the back of flat-bed trucks, not wearing seat-belts, roaming around empty fields for hours at a time with no-one knowing where we were, dangling from playground equipment you could base jump from) swimming pools still had HIGH DIVE boards and 3 meter boards alongside the little belly-flopper board they have now.
When I was little, we went to a vacation spot that had a board that was at least 12 stories tall and swayed in the breeze (to my overactive, child -imagination at least) … there was no way I was going to jump off THAT thing. No way! Luckily for me, there was a lower diving board. And since I had just learned to dive from the edge of the pool into the icy, chlorinated waters of the municipal pool at swim-class, I figured I was good to go. A dive is a dive. Right? My grandmother was a world-class diver and swimmer. (The family story was that she was about to be in the cancelled 1940 summer Olympics). I can do this!! I’ve got diving in my blood!
I climbed up the tall ladder with dozens of other kids queuing up behind me and suddenly the “low” board felt 1000 feet high. I slowly walked to the end, which I was almost 100% positive was exactly like walking the plank of a Pirate ship, and …. stopped. The wind was blowing gooseflesh across my legs, and when I looked down, things went from bad to worse. This wasn’t my little swim-class pool – this was an enormous pool with the deepest deep end I’d ever seen. Cavernously deep. Wait, was that the shadow of the board on the water? Nope… I’m pretty sure that’s a hammerhead shark. A man-eating hammerhead shark.
I turned around and saw the crowd of irate kids behind me, dripping pool water mixed with Coppertone, glaring at me like they wanted to throw me into the drink face first. I felt scared to jump and horrible for holding up the line. I could smell the fear, pool water, coconut sunscreen and impatience.
This adorable card from “The Answer is Simple Oracle” by Sonia Choquette (a gift from a friend) reminds me of this very day. A child is poised at the top of the slide but is scared to go down and the kids on the ladder are saying, “hurry up before we strangle you!” – the slide is small and not-scary, but to the little guy at the top, it sure doesn’t feel that way.
Right now, you might be feeling like the kid on the slide who is scared to go down and thinking about climbing right back down the ladder and running home as fast as possible. Or you might even feel like one of the kids in the line … frustrated at the hold up and annoyed that someone else isn’t getting with the program and is holding the entire works up! Either way, you must have patience. Patience with yourself if you’re dragging your feet or suddenly encountering a case of the heebie-jeebies, and patience with others you feel are standing in your way at the top of the slide. Anger, impatience, frustration and annoyance might not make them (or yourself) take on a new challenge faster and might even slow things down. Patience with yourself can instill confidence and bravery when the imaginary sharks are swimming beneath your feet. Oh how I wish one of those onlookers would have just said, “it’s ok, it’s fun, you can do it!” but they didn’t.
In those days where patience and encouragement is not forthcoming, be patient with YOURSELF. Guilt, anguish and feeling bad about yourself will not whip you into shape and can, instead, be a distraction mechanism your ego can use to avoid getting things done. (“I can’t dive in… I’m too busy feeling bad about myself for not taking the leap.”) And if you’re waiting on someone to make a daring move, remember that you too have faltered or been unsure. Remember how it felt and how you wanted others to treat you during that time. Did you want them to have confidence in you, or harsh criticism? Did you want them to have patience or did you want them to be impatient and frustrated with you? Would encouragement help?
It doesn’t matter how “wrong” or stupid the other person is being in your eyes or how obvious the solution is, and it doesn’t matter if you’re angry with yourself for being scared or silly…. frustration cannot accomplish anything. Ultimately you can’t be responsible for anyone else’s job to do. You can’t make them slide when you’re waiting…. and you can’t make them encourage you when you’re on the other side. They will slide down the slide eventually and so will you. Things will get moving again, but this interim will go better if you’re patient. Don’t let snags in the queue or hold-ups seem like impossible stopping points (especially as we start a Mercury retrograde between now and Jul.20 … or Aug 3rd)
What happened to me that day ? I’m not sure how, but I DO know that I did eventually make it off that diving board….. the water was deep and I could not touch the bottom. It was a shock. But I survived. I got back up on the ladder and went a few dozen more times with the rest of the kids. Coming up from that cavernous depth, swimming to the edge… going back to the board dripping and cold, over and over and having a blast!
*about the deck: Sonia Choquette’s “THE ANSWER IS SIMPLE ORACLE” cards (illustrated by ??? unknown) published by Hay House 62 cards. Very “cute” cards and messages, but some of the illustrations are clever.