~There’s always a calm bay no matter which way the wind’s blowing. If you don’t fall you’re not trying hard enough. That’s what we heard and that’s what we said when I was a kid.
Summers were spent at the lake. Water skiing was what made us breathe. No matter how strong the wind we could always find at least one shoreline in one bay that was calm enough to ski. And even on a perfect day not falling wasn’t something to be proud of—it meant you weren’t trying hard enough. Or at least, that’s what we’d say. It made falling a little easier, kind of added a badge of honor to it. It gave us freedom to give our all, without worrying about the fall.
Boy-howdy, I wish I could remember that kid-wisdom more often nowadays. Go for it! Give your all! Don’t worry ‘bout the fall. Take that test. Write that story. Pop that question. Submit that book. Sing that song. Join that club. Take that class. Push ‘Send.’ Or… be bold enough to tell that boss, “No. Today I play. This weekend I spend with family.” Be courageous. Rejection comes from reaching. But, instead of remembering that, I remember this—the fall.
I replay the pain. The times I tried and failed. I got burned at bat. My reach received rejection. Now at fifty-something I don’t bounce back as fast. And for some reason I think I’ve got more to lose. And thus, I hesitate to try hard enough to fall. I rock the rocker, but not the boat.
It’s not for fear of a physical fall—a dip in the drink—but for fear of a replay of a past mistake, a ripping open of a scabbed over wound. Fear of rejection stops a heart from reaching…and eventually from beating.
To attempt and fail should not be feared as much as a thing that numbs the mind and drowns the soul—the atrophy from apathy.
For days I’ve been staring across the water, from this shore. I’d like to reach the other side. I want to jump in and swim. There’s risk. I may get out over my head and grow weary. I may drown. I could get run over by some other folk speeding by in a great big boat. I may get tangled up in a fisherman’s rope or stung by some underwater creature. There is no way of knowing if I’ll reach the other side, unless of course, I just sit here on this shore—then for sure I’ll know, I never will.
But, I remember the water skiing days of my youth. I jump the wake. Airborne for what feels like a minute but is only a second or two until my slalom ski slaps the face of the water. I feel the rudder cut a deep incision in the surface of the lake as I lean to one side and my shoulder almost touches the water. A shimmering wall rises behind me several feet high and I hear it collapse like heavy rain. I relax and look back. The water has almost healed; all my jumping and cutting and wall building—all but gone. Where the ski slapped and ripped the water returns. The wake and white water stops churning and turning. Within seconds the cutting open of the lake’s skin heals, without a trace.
At times I’d be going so fast that when I fell I’d bounce across the face of the water. But it would quickly forgive and wrap me in its soft familiar embrace. But nothing remained to remember the fall. It showed no scar or dent it wasn't torn or bleeding. The water forgave and forgot. And we are mostly water, are we not?
I try to remember:
No matter which way or how hard the wind’s blowing—there’s always a calm bay
Rejection means I’m reaching
Falling means I’m trying
The atrophy from apathy numbs the mind and drowns the soul
Jesus answered and said to her, If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that said to you, Give me to drink; you would have asked of him, and he would have given you living water. John 4:10
He that believes on me, as the scripture has said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. John 7:38