Remember being a kid and standing atop a 10 to 12-foot diving board?
First, it was that trip up the ladder. You looked up, not down. You were determined. But then on top, it seemed as though you were standing atop Niagara Falls. (Having never been to Niagara Falls at that point in your life.)
Remember looking down at the water; you had the hight of the board, plus your height up to your eyeballs. What was that 15 to 17 feet?
Did you jump or climb back down? (Hey, self-preservation is nothing to sneeze at.)
You should have held your nose, for it almost got ripped off your face. The water sucked you in like a vacuum, and your feet touched the bottom of the deep end. You gave a push with your toes, and sailed back up to the surface.
Ah ha. Victorious!
Would we let a nine-year-old jump off a 12 –foot high board now?
I don’t know.
My mom jumped off a hay-loft into a pile of hay at about that age and broke her tailbone in the process.
Hay isn’t as soft as it looks, neither is water.
We survived childhood.
It’s a miracle.
Once in the heat of summer, I saw a little girl climbing a water fountain in Portland Oregon. It was a fountain where water poured over steps at least a foot high so the kids had to scramble using arms and knees, to get over them. (I’ve tried, but can’t find that fountain again.)
That girl, the smallest of the group, was following the big kids, and she had to scramble more than the others to get over the steps, but she climbed until she almost reached the top. There she stopped, held her arms to her sides and began shaking.
A panic attack.
Oh my God, I thought, shall I climb up there to rescue her?
Suddenly this little girl, no more than five-years-old, mustered her courage and climbed on up to the others.
What an inspiration!
If ever I saw someone face their fears and push through, it was that little girl.
Sometimes as adults we must face our fears too. I’m not talking about extreme sports where people put themselves in harm’s way for the adrenaline rush, I’m talking about taking the next step in your career, or going for what you have wanted to do your whole life, or creating something new not knowing if anyone else in the entire world will appreciate it.
What shall we do in situations such as those?
We compare ourselves to others—there are better writers than me, people with brighter ideas, those more intelligent and better educated. Yet, many times we are comparing ourselves with the finished product rather than a work-in-process.
What about that scientific gizmo, shall you spend the hours, the research to perfect it? Is it worth the struggle?
Have you seen an early Steven Spielberg’s movie, or George Lucas of Star War’s fame who inspired a generation to believe in The Force? While their early movies look amateurish their finished products are exquisite.
We think, “Someday.”
Does someday come? Sometimes. Sometimes not. I had a friend who desperately wanted to travel, but she waited for the right time, the right traveling companion, the right situation, and life passed, and so did she. Rats!
What am I trying to say?
I don’t know how many readers want to go for their dream, perhaps their careers are spent, and they are retired.
Retirement is the best time to do what you’ve always wanted to do. Think of it. You aren’t working for money anymore. And you do not want to join the great unwashed who sit flipping channels all day.
We only have a limited number of days, years, hours on this planet, we ought to make the most of them.
So want do you want to do, besides read me?
Oh, do that first.
My motto, when presented with a task, is to follow the Disney Imagineers directive. Say yes, beat your head on the desk in your belief that you can’t do it, then do it.
More to my liking.
For all my writing about “Brunch for the Soul, Following the Sacred Path, and How to travel the road to enlightenment, I have to stop for a minute and scream: “WHAT ARE YOU THINKIN’?”
For weeks the Broadway Metro, a local art theater in Eugene Oregon has been packed with patrons anxious to harken back to a nostalgic time when kids sat enraptured in front of the TV to watch Mr. Rodgers ask them “ Won’t you be my neighbor?”
Mr. Rogers philosophy sang loudly through his show--that the feelings of children are real. They matter. They deserve to be acknowledged and taken seriously. Adults need to listen to children and respond respectfully.
“Today’s corporate education would break Fred Roger’s heart.”-- Democracy and Education in The Eugene Weekly, by--Colleen Hunter and Roscoe Caron.
Big data about little people. Children in kindergarten, are tested for literacy, math, and approaches to learning. And that’s just a warm-up for things to come.
At that age, I thought kids were more interested in eating dirt.
Math? Who knows math at five-years-old? Well, maybe a few.
“Hey teacher, if I already knew all you are expecting of me, I wouldn’t need to be sitting in your classroom.”
If they had tested me at an early age, I probably wouldn’t have a B.A. from the University of California, Riverside.
Many of the corporations who make fortunes in the testing industry—mostly early education, have lost sight of what Mr. Rogers so wisely expounded.
Last week I attended a meeting of a local alternative school applying to be a Charter school.
Supporters sat in front of a tribunal of School Board members who sat stone-faced to hear plaintive cries from parents who want choices for their kids.
After the meeting, I was alone in the hall, and one of the board members passed me as though I didn’t exist.
I wanted to yell after him, ”You’re not that important!”
But I guess he is. He is one of that tribunal that has the power to say “Yes” or “No.” The school will either go, or it won’t.
I had a wonderful experience in that hall earlier, having left early letting the legalese people speak a language I didn’t understand and leaving my husband to soak it up.
There in the hall, a kid approached me, “Why are you here? he asked.
“In the hall or at the meeting?
“I came to support your school. I figured the more people the better.”
He extended his hand and said, “Thank you.”
This kid was a student at the alternative school applying for the Charter. I had never interacted with him although I had stopped by the school many times to pick up a grandchild. At that time my hallway friend had spent most of his time in the closet. And I thought he didn’t speak.
His story was that he was born so early he was considered a fetus.
He was small for his age, fourteen, he told me, and he also informed me that he was learning to read.
Don’t test that kid.
For the following half hour, he entertained me by describing a Video game where androids burst out to be sentient. (Yes, he used that word.) He acted them out, emoting, pressing a fist in the air, breaking through some invisible barrier, running down the hall and back. And he was not walking on tip-toes as he had in previous years.
He, like the androids he was telling me about, was breaking through the bounds that had previously constrained him.
Evelyn lived in the same apartment complex as my daughter’s mother-in-law. And she heard voices. No, really it was a song, not the sort that often comes to us in our mind’s ear, but a real earthy loud song.
No songs were playing outside her apartment; it was definitely coming from inside. The stereo wasn’t on; either was the television or the radio. Still, she could hear that song.
Evelyn began to think she was having mental problems and went so far to speak with a psychologist that lived in the same apartment building. They couldn’t find an answer, and she seemed of sound mind, except for that damn song.
One day Evelyn found the answer.
Have you ever seen one of those coffee mugs that has a song player in its bottom? Pick up the mug, and it is silent. Set it down, and it plays—well, Evelyn had such a mug, and it was playing in her cupboard. She had forgotten she even had it. (Maybe it was playing its Swan’s Song.)
We have voices too, not literal ones, but ones that yammer in our heads on a regular basis. Some call it a monkey mind. Others call it “Being conscious of being conscious.” You are thinking thoughts while thinking that you are thinking them, while also thinking about the task at hand. G. I. Gurdjieff called it “Self-remembering.”
One way to combat this is to stop whatever you are about to do and use the “Gathering mindfulness” technique, that is to take a few seconds to notice what you are about to do. Take in the sight, the sound, the feeling.
The background noise fades, and the world becomes richer.
To quote Jean Huston, “Change perspective through meditation, reflection or focus, and discover yourself to be the latest flower on the tree of the cosmos, ready to Bloom.”
“Have you been half asleep and have you heard voices? I’ve heard them calling my name.” Kermit the Frog (The Rainbow Connection)