“Just jump!” I yelled at my sister from below. She quickly became a silhouette as the sun set behind her as she stood on the high dive. “It’s really fun!”, I further encouraged. “Hurry, it’s getting dark!”
“I will give you 50 cents if you do”, my dad said from below as he threw chlorine blocks into the city pool. He was done for the day and I was too. Being city manager at the pool in the summers to supplement his teaching income was something that I surely never paid attention to at age nine. We got to swim for free each summer, and it was extra money for our family of six. He also coached football and basketball. I look back at all that now and wonder where he had the energy.
“Why does she get 50 cents dad?” fell on deaf ears. I had just jumped. For nothing. For fun. All I could think about was how many caramel creams, candied lipsticks and packs of Smarties that much money could buy at the concession stand the next day. My sister slowly climbed down the ladder in the dark.
I get it now. I understand why he didn’t need to bribe me or pay me for jumping.
He knew I had it in me all along to jump for other reasons.
Not rewarding me for something that I so enjoyed, would have made it not special anymore, and I probably would have quit challenging myself then and there.
It’s why I can still jump into the frigid waters of San Francisco Bay and swim to the city. It’s why I can scream down a hill on my road bike, or ride over large rocks on my mountain bike. It’s why I climbed to the top of trees as a kid and still climb to the top of mountains at age 61. It’s why I can go into a weight room and do my thing and not worry about what others are thinking about me. It’s why I was able to have a career and be able to support my daughter and put her through college. It’s why I can get up in front of a room full of my peers and give a presentation, or strap a guitar on my back and sing out of key, with a room full of preschoolers. It’s why I still toe the line at various kinds of race distances, never thinking about how I can’t do it, but how great it will be. It’s why I get up every morning at four a.m. and go out the door with wonder to encounter what, a coyote today? A javelina? A rattler? A few lizards? A full moon? A shooting star? An ornery child or parent at work? A broken garage door or irrigation system?
Yeah. Just jump!