I learned this valuable lesson the hard way at a fairly young age. Making any decision, whether large or seemingly small, requires first knowing what possibilities lay before you. The experience that literally impressed this upon me ensures that I will never forget that there are consequences that can be quite serious if you don’t!
I share this story here with you now.
“Family Day” at my brother’s summer camp was full of planned activities and games, food and prizes, but I could hardly wait for what I had come for; swimming in a lake I’d never been in. I loved to swim! There was a long dock that stretched out into the lake and I knew it would be wonderful to take a running leap right off the end of it! I changed at the beach house when I was finally allowed to and ran down to the shore. Kids were already swimming and splashing around in the water. My sister waded in to join them and signaled me to come too. I shook my head at her and with a big grin, I started running. My favorite thing to do was to cannonball off of a dock then stretch out my legs under water and push off the bottom of the lake, thus catapulting myself back up out of the water like a rocket. I found great freedom and joy in doing this! I didn’t know that the ground below dropped off at this point and that the water was very deep, too deep for me and my game.
I took a flying leap and jumped in, my wonderful cannonball plummeting me down hard. Stretching my legs, I expected to hit the bottom and launch myself back up to the world above. There was nothing there and I was still sinking! Trying not to panic, I started stroking hard to reach the surface but the water was dark and I couldn’t find that either! I feared that I had turned in my jump and was now moving sideways. I hadn’t taken a large inhale of air with me because I had expected to be right back up. My lungs began to burn as I swept my arms wide and hard. Panic started to rise in me as my body screamed for air. Just when I despaired of finding the surface before being forced to inhale, someone grabbed me by the hair and ripped me out of the hands of watery death. Thank goodness someone from the camp had seen me jump from the end of the dock and had yelled an alarm. My father was there to hold me close and tight as I gasped and sputtered. I was getting quite the scolding as I struggled to regain my senses there in his arms. I heard it again and again that day and for many days thereafter. I can still hear the fear in his voice… “Always look before you leap!”
This lesson has stuck with me throughout my life. Get the facts. Know what is ahead of you. Move carefully until you are certain of what you are “leaping” into. Don’t assume, know. These words of wisdom are underscored by the experience of my nearly drowning in the deep end. Though often not so literal as my lesson was, the end result of not knowing what you are leaping into can be quite disastrous!
Note: Though I’ve not followed this lesson perfectly, as last weeks writing, “Enjoy the Morning!” would show you, I usually heed this most excellent advice!