Why would a happy, well adjusted woman who was terrified of deep water, feel compelled to learn to water ski at 40 years old? Why risk life and limb for that? To prove what?
I've pondered those questions and the answer is simply, "I'm not sure."
We talk of men and mid-life crisis. Was I having my own mid-life crisis? Was I tired of watching from the sidelines while others had a blast in the water? Did I really aspire to stare fear, in the face . . . and WIN?
FACING MY FEAR
My fear of deep water goes 'way back'. My mother never donned a bathing suit in her life, so it was my father who tried to introduce me to the water. There was no shallow end at 'the swimming hole' - no luxury of easing in slowly. It was not an ideal place for an extremely cautious and timid little girl to even want to learn, so I resisted.
Some years later I had an experience that left an indelible impression on my life.
On a summer visit with cousins at their Minnesota lake home, we were playing in the water one afternoon. The water was waist deep. Suddenly, my feet did not touch bottom. Under I went. I recall an older man was nearby. In panic, I grabbed: I got the waistband of his swimming shorts. The rest is a blur but the memory of the moment and the feeling of panic flooding over me then, is as clear as a bell, even to this day.
Flash forward to the summer of 94. It was a glorious summer day on Otter Lake. Everyone, and I mean everyone at the cottage, was in the water. The family we were with were all skiing enthusiasts; we're talking slalom, barefoot and water acrobatics.
It was that day I made the decision. I would learn to water-ski! There was no indecision. I could and I would do this.
You would have laughed had you heard me that day, head down muttering to myself, "I can, I will, I will not be denied."
I prepared. Every possible inch of my body was covered; full wet suit, gloves and flotation device!
Heading to the dock, I was saying out loud with growing intensity and determination, "I can, I will. I will not be denied."
Then it was time to get into the water, let go of the side of the boat and get into position.
I recall those moments as being the most intense! I was facing my fear of being in water over my head and trusting the weight of my body to the flotation device.
I knew I was capable of skiing: I was coordinated, flexible and strong. There was no physical excuse, I reasoned. "Relax," I told myself as I kept pressing on.
With my husband Jon directing from the back of the boat, I endeavored to position my body – knees bent – arms straight – ski’s parallel.
I would love to report that it was a piece of cake, this skiing thing, but truth be told – it took 5 tries!
I recall my son Jon – 14 at the time, was also in the back of the boat. I HAD to do this. "I will not give up. I cannot fail,” I told myself. “I MUST do this!"
"I Can! I Will! I will NOT be denied," I kept on!
ACTUALLY . . . UP
I’m not sure what it was, but on the fifth try it all came together! It was magical!
I found myself gliding over the surface of the water, the wind blowing through my hair. I even managed to navigate the wake as I hung on for dear life. It was a totally exhilarating experience.
Had you been within ear shot that afternoon, you would have heard the exuberant echo of accomplishment as I shouted over and over, and over again, “I did it! I did it! I DID it!”
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B E L I E F !
Everything we do in life begins with belief. If we believe we can, chances are we will. And if we believe we can’t, chances are we won’t. Sounds pretty simplistic, but it is true. Success in any area of our lives, whether it is learning a new skill like water-skiing, stepping out on a new business venture, losing weight, or getting a handle on the excess in our lives and choosing an uncluttered life all begin with believing we can do it.
Joshua Becker, the blogger behind Becoming Minimalist, has a pretty good handle on human nature I would say. In his on line course ‘Uncluttered’ he has encouraged us all to identify our “WHY”, and then focus on believing that we CAN change.
Downsizing requires the same commitment. It begins with a reason, and then the belief that we can let go of the things we no longer need, and embrace a rich and beautiful life…with less.
Others have done it and survived. So can you. I know you can!