There was no reason for me NOT to drive the wave runner during our Clark family vacation last week...I'm 38, I have a driver's license, I'm moderately responsible, and I really, really wanted to say "I CAN drive the wave runner." I did not want to be the one on the dock while everybody else did exciting things. More importantly, I didn't want my kids to see me being a chicken sh*t.
I know exactly why I was so afraid to drive it. My constant and irrational fear of deep water originated in the very same lake we were visiting. Too many Jaws references, too many legends about the crazy depth (100+ feet), too many older kids threatening to throw the younger ones "off the rock." I was terrified of what would happen if I was to fall off and panic...in my mind I knew how to get back on, but could I actually do it? I KNOW that I will not drown with a life vest on, but some part of my brain doesn't believe that at all.
My solution was to ease in. First I started talking about driving it, then I asked about how to turn it on, how to dock it, you know...pretending that I would actually do it. Then I sat on it...uh. The view from the seat was even worse than I thought. Before I even got into the scary lake, I had to maneuver it away from the dock, avoiding rocks, a small boat, and said dock itself. Then, to park, I'd have to aim the nose between the rails of the hoist, and hope I didn't launch over it onto the beach.
Once I actually started it, I seriously considered bagging the whole idea, but I do not want to be the one who can't. I want to be powerful, I want to DO things. So I pulled away from the dock carefully, and actually perfectly. I went for a very slow toodle one way, then the other, then docked it, perfectly. It was not hard, but it was not fun. When I cut the engine, my hands were shaking, and I was SO DARNED PROUD OF MYSELF!
Two days later while paddling the much calmer kayak, I passed a camp where a little girl was poised to dive into the water off of her family's dock. Her brother was trying to be encouraging, meaning he was calling her names and diving in over and over while she stood there. Her parents watched from nearby, and occasionally said, "You can do it, Olivia. Just don't think about it." But I was right there with Olivia. She was taking her time to understand just what she was getting into. She wanted desperately to dive, and to do that you have to get into position. There are no rules as to how long it should take you to actually hit the water. She was at least much closer than if she was inside watching TV while her brother was out having fun.
About 10 minutes later when I paddled past again, she was still there with her arms out in front, bikini and goggles and tiny little toes, ignoring her pestering brother. I am rooting for her, because she knows what she wants. She wants to be "one who can dive off the dock." And I know she will.