Fear, that is.
I hadn’t planned on doing anything but sitting in the sand and watching James and Kenny swim, but they wouldn’t go in the cold water. I waded in up to my thighs and shivered. It was cold! There was one teenager swimming. Everyone else was sitting and watching, staring out at the water, daydreaming.
I saw the rope swing hanging silently off to the side about 30 yards away, bored as a rope could be.
I imagined we’d leave to go home soon because nothing was happening. We’d been lulled into the Twighlight Zone of the first day of Summer when people feel like they ought to feel something, but don’t.
So they sit and wait for something to wake them up.
I thought about what I’d say to myself at the end of the day – had it been a good one? Was there anything I regretted? And that conversation with myself made up my mind for me.
“Wanna go off the rope swing?” I’d never swung off it into the water. Never. Not once. The last time I swung on a rope I was about 15 and I broke both of my wrists when it broke in mid-air. I wasn’t scared of falling. That’s not why I never tried the swing.
I was afraid of being exposed. Aren’t we all afraid of that to one degree or another?
“I do, but I want you to come!” Kenny whined, his voice betraying his lack of confidence in me.
In a matter of seconds we were on the skinny path of the woods, stepping over bared roots, dodging over-grown branches from bordering bushes. My heart started pounding and I began to giggle to myself. I jumped into the water to retrieve the rope and passed it to Kenny as I climbed back up the bank of tree roots.
“Do you want to go first or should I?”
“You go.” So that was it. I’d been chosen.The teenager, seeing some action, came through the woods as Kenny gave me the rope.
“You have to grab the 2nd knot up,” he advised, but I couldn’t reach it, so I backed up, wrapped my hands around the lower knot and jumped. I laughed and clapped as I blew the water out of my nose, and swung the rope up to the boys.
Kenny never took a turn, but the teenager did. He belly-flopped! It was really funny.
Then we were done, headed back to the beach.
The boys started swimming, having fun, and I sat down to watch. I heard a loud splash and some clapping, turned to see the remnants of the ripples made by a man who’d just dropped in off the swing, his wife cheering his success.
The beach had come alive all of a sudden. That made me smile and do some wondering.
I’m good at that you know.
When we’re very young we don’t really watch.
We do and be.
We have to learn to be brave as we grow up and become aware of ourselves and other people, our mortality, and the possibility for failure.
Remember and know that…
… while we’re learning to be brave,
…and to forget that anyone cares about what we’re doing,
…we miss out on a lot of fun,
…and the feeling of aliveness,
Next time someone asks you to do something that makes you uncomfortable.
Think about BRAVE.