I think there is a part in each of us that begs to escape, to run away. When you think you may have ventured too far from the path. Things start to look so unfamiliar that you pause and step back, trying to see the whole picture — only for it to be obscured by the “right now”. I don’t think I’m a courageous person, no more than anyone else. I think luck has put me in some situations where I needed a calm demeanor — I drove up on a fatal wreck, I stopped a man from choking, I put myself in front of a man trying to stab his girlfriend, I performed CPR on a dying child. I don’t know why I was there, in those situations… not all turned out okay. I think everyone would just react, just go with their natural instincts in demanding situations.
When I was about 5 or 6 years old. I was at the pool with my brother and sisters, summer break was usually spent lounging at the community pool. I had never gone off the high diving board — it seemed so high. I can remember standing at the foot of the steps and looking up, so scared and so filled with want at the same time… I would inevitably walk away. Then I would jump in the water and look up at the board from underneath, gauging the distance — wondering how far down I would go… if I jumped, wondering how long I would need to hold my breath… if I jumped. I repeated this scene many times that summer — staring up from the steps then from the water, and each night I would go home and say, “… tomorrow”.
Summer was half way finished and I still hadn’t jumped — I remember the day well. My brother had purchased some Lemon Head candies from the concession stand and said if I jumped, he would share with me. I loved Lemon Head candies. Without thinking, I made my way to the ladder and climbed up — never stopping. Once I reached the top I walked slowly out to the end of the board and looked down — it was so far down. I turned to go back down the ladder only to find it was packed with anxious kids waiting their turn… no way out. I looked at the lifeguard who was motioning for me to jump. I looked down in the water at my brother who was holding up the box of Lemon Heads. I calculated how long I would need to hold my breath, I calculated how long it would take for the lifeguard to save me, I calculated how many Lemon Heads would be left if I waited too much longer — and I jumped. My eyes were open the whole time, fixated on the water below. My breathing stopped — not because I remembered to hold my breath, it just stopped… and there was silence all around me. I could feel my heart beating, strongly… but I couldn’t hear anything. The water seemed so far away… I remember thinking it would be over soon, surely it would be over soon. Then I broke the surface and sank slowly to a halt. With one quick kick, I popped up and swam for the edge. It was over. I was all at once filled with the want of going again and the longing of having that feeling of weightless silence return — but the dread of the unknown was no longer there. I was laughing. Everyone was laughing at the little daredevil who just jumped off the high dive for a Lemon Head.
I think the daredevil might be around, somewhere…inside. Maybe here on this blog, maybe out there in a world that sometimes confuses and hurts, maybe when I feel like I’m being kicked in the gut so often that I forget how to stand up straight. Maybe the daredevil is remembering how to stand up straight. Courage is in us all, we just have to be willing to let it see the light of day once in a while… and when we do, marvelous things happen. Books are written, blogs are started, friendships are formed — life is lived… we stay in the “right now”, courage is in us all.
Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow.” ~~ Mary Anne Radmacher