I have been asking myself this question a lot this summer. First, it was nudging my very reluctant younger son to sleep away camp (and feeling like an incredibly guilty mom). Then it was getting on the boat during my trip to Maine (I don’t love boats). Yesterday, it was contemplating the ocean in Montauk.
It takes a certain amount of guts to swim in the ocean. When you get to the edge of the water there a number of things to consider. One, how shocked by the cold will I be. Two, how rough, or calm is it today. And three, how fast can I get past the break into the calmer part of the water. The break, where the waves are rolling and crashing, is that fine line between ocean fun and chaos. Get stuck in the break and you simply stand in fear and uncertainty.
I grew up with the stories of my father as a teenage lifeguard at Jones Beach, a job only for the physically fit and brave. I trusted him completely every time he would take me out as a small child, into the water past those breakers. I learned from him that if you can make it past the break, your chances of getting tumbled in the waves decreases significantly. If you hesitate, you’re potentially mixed into a rolling mess of sea spray and sand.
Once you are all in, you are not finished. You need to know how to navigate the water. Either let the waves float you to the top or dive underneath them. But do not hesitate.
It’s the key to swimming in the ocean without fear.
- what if it doesn’t feel good
- what if it is uncomfortable
- what if it doesn’t taste good
- what if it doesn’t work
- what if I can’t eat like everyone else
My own story around weight loss took a big dose of bravery. I was either sitting at the edge, or rolling in the break, getting distracted with the needs of others. I needed to challenge myself to think about me first.
The opposite of fear is bravery. It feels so safe to sit at the edge, but being brave is incredibly empowering.
This was the most powerful thing I ever did for myself. I had fears that people were going to give me a hard time, or try to influence me in a negative way. While I was losing weight I would also have dreams that I had gained all the weight back. I feared I would become my own form of sabotage. It was simply my habit to let fear try to face me down.I got up with my daughter this morning at 5:30am to drive out to the lighthouse to watch the sunrise. Watching this wondrous scene made me feel strong and ready to seize the day. A chance to start again.
So I will ask the question again. What are you holding onto, standing at the edge, watching those rolling waves? Jump past the fear, the water is fine.