A gorge in the Middle of Nowhere, Tennessee. Calm, dark water with a hint of murkiness.
The rest of my group took off, swimming for the other bank of trees and sheer rock.
“Come on!” they called. “Do it!”
I shook my head no as they doggie paddled, freestyled, and floated their way across the channel.
They called me and gestured a couple of more times, then they gave up when I continued to stand firm, head shaking. Nope, nope, nope. Not doing it. No sirree. Not this girl.
Then I asked myself, standing alone on the shore, why not?
Sure, I’m only a few years past being petrified to swim in any kind of water where I can’t see the bottom. Sure, I don’t have a life jacket or any flotation device. Sure, I have no idea how deep this is, or how far across it is (although I can see the other side). Sure, I don’t really know how to swim in any kind of recognizable stroke or otherwise efficient way. (Which should have changed, given my story of near drowning, but it hasn’t.)
And after I told myself all that “why I can’t” stuff, I asked myself again, why not?
Then I started psyching myself up.
I can do this. I am training for a triathlon. Yes, it has been put off a year but I still need to get going. It’s not that big of a deal. I can do this. It’s not that far. Just start. Just go.
So I just walked out from the dirt “beach” and started to make my way across in some kind of swim-like movement. Sorta freestyle-doggie-paddle, breaking into a vaguely-resembling-breast stroke at times, but never putting my head under water. Eyes fixed resolutely on the other shore.
Yes, the fear set in about halfway across, everyone else in my group just chatting and laughing on the rocks. I knew if I didn’t keep going I was probably in trouble, so I kept paddling along.
Eventually, the shore got closer. My group noticed I was nearly there. And I finally, eventually made it. Seven straight minutes of swimming without touching bottom or using a life jacket.
Cut to the chase / return…I shaved a minute off my time and made it back in 6. 100 yards each way.
Still not real fast or real organized in the swim lane, but a small victory in calling myself on my own “nope, nope, nope” and raising it with a “why not?”
And yes, it was worth it.
What have you dared to do lately?