Summer is here and in Arizona it means some really hot weather. Those of us who live here spend time moving from an air-conditioned house to an air-conditioned car to the air-conditioned store and back again. Or we end up in a swimming pool.
As soon as our kids are out of school, they start swim team. Every morning they go to one of the public pools for an hour and work on their swim strokes. Then, every Thursday night is the swim meet, where they can compete for a ribbon.
My oldest son is a really good swimmer. He learned to swim really young and he is just a natural in the water.
He also has a tough time wanting to go and compete.
He feels most comfortable staying at home where his world is predictable and there is little fear of failure. He has always been that way. It seems like once a week I will plan something fun, like kayaking at the lake or driving to go look for cool rocks in the mountains, and he will tell me, “I don’t want to go today. Can we just take today off?” I practically have to drag him out the door and into the car.
But then on the way home from the activity he always tells me “This was the best day ever! Thanks for planning a fun day dad!” This is when I try to remind him that all of the great adventures in life happen when you leave your own doorstep.
So last Thursday when the time came to get ready for the swim meet, he once again started saying how much he didn’t want to go. After a few minutes, we made him a deal that if he went to this meet and hated it, he could skip the rest of the meets for the year and just continue swim team without competing.
We arrived at the pool a little early and found the area where the kids set up their camp and get ready. I gave him some last-minute tips and a pep talk before walking to my seat. As I walked away I looked over my shoulder and caught a glimpse of my nervous little boy sitting on his towel lost in thought.
Swim meets are an interesting place because you get to mingle in amongst the hyper-competitive parents who you think will beat their kid if he doesn’t bring home the blue ribbon. After what seemed like an eternity of sitting in the hot sun, it came time for my son’s race. Of course he is in the race against some kid with a Michael Phelps edition LAZR race suit.
I watched nervously as he jumped into the water and began paddling as hard as he could. I had told him to save a little energy for the last part but that the goal was to finish with no energy left. As he swam he held his own with the group for almost the entire distance of the pool and then in the last few meters he gave a little burst and touched the wall.
We didn’t get to see the finish from where we were standing and had no idea how it had ended. I hurried around to the back of the bleachers and found him with a big smile on his face talking to a friend. “Dad! Me and the fast kid tied for 1st place so they gave us both a red ribbon!” He was so excited. I was so excited. Parents know that excited feeling you get when your child overcomes an obstacle and has success. It is like no other feeling in the world.
What’s the Takeaway Lesson?
How many great experiences are out there waiting for us on the other side of our fear? What new adventures are outside our front door if we would just take those uncomfortable steps out into the unknown?
There are many talents that we could develop or life-changing experiences we would encounter if we will be willing to go out and try.
Unfortunately, it is much more comfortable to stay at home or within our comfort zone. I am reminded of the quote that says, “A ship in the harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.”
I hope that we can look for more experiences and opportunities in our life. I hope that we can overcome that voice that says, “Don’t try it, you might not be good at it.”
Sometimes you gotta just get in the pool and start swimming.
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