I jumped in.
Ferociously paddling my arms and legs like I had observed the other children doing, I tried to get back above water but nothing happened. I just sank deeper and deeper.
As I looked up, all I could see was dozens of legs kicking… and… blue water.
Water gushed through my nose and mouth; my ears now flooded. I paddled incessantly for dear life. Surely someone could see me.
10 seconds passed… 20 seconds… 30 seconds… 40 seconds… a minute.
I was only 7 years old – but a mature one – and I knew what came next. I thought this was the end of my short little life.
I started thinking about my mom, sister, grandma… my friends. I’d never see any of them again. Then I started blaming myself for following the other kids into the pool, knowing I had never swam a day in my life — outside of a blow-up pool — prior to this.
And then it happened.
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I felt this body grab ahold of me, lifting me up to the top. This older girl had spotted me making motions in the deep water longer than expected and came to my rescue. She saved my life.
After that, I just remember choking and gasping for air and a bunch of staff from the summer camp circling me.
Apparently, no one had explained to me there was a very shallow 3 ft end and a very deep 12ft end. And having never really been to a huge public swimming pool like this, I honestly had no idea how it worked. All I saw was kids having fun and everybody moving freely so I went along.
To what detail they explained the event to my mother, I don’t recall, but I do remember waking up in her arms that night.
I would sleep walk a lot and usually act out anything that was bothering me. I could never hold a secret because it would come out sooner or later, unbeknownst to me, in my sleep. That particular night, my mom says I was swimming up the wall. I was literally acting like I was drowning and making arm motions against the wall beside my bed.
Indeed a scary moment earlier on in my life but it taught me a few things.
Til’ this day, I ask a lot of questions… especially when I’m new to something. I even ask a million questions while watching movies and my wife hates it. She’s learned to simply ignore me during movies but it doesn’t stop me from asking repeatedly.
I’ve learned to never “jump” into situations without being prepared. Whether it’s on the keyboard or in the boardroom, all the same.
In anything I do, I seek the right instruction and advice before doing it. For example, I’ve been learning golf for the last 6 months and the first thing I did was seek the professional lessons of a PGA instructor who teaches the REAL stuff I need to know. I didn’t want to just jump into the situation blindly just because I could.
I am very cautious of following the “crowd.” In fact, I believe any “crowd” is usually wrong. Do the opposite of what most people do and you’ll probably be right.
That’s why you may sense a contrarian edge to a lot of my teachings. I don’t care how they teach it in the big-whig conservatories… I’m going to teach you the most practical way to understand it, even if I’ve got to come up with silly memory aids and mnemonics like “Why Won’t He Wear White When Hot” to help you remember the “whole step / half step” formula for major scales! That’s how I roll!
And it’s been that way for the longest. While other 12 year olds were playing their Gameboys, I was out selling stationery and Avon products (yup, Avon products!). In college, I was writing a 300pg workbook and recording dvds while others in my suite were partying with their respective fraternities every week.
At a young age, I married and got a head start on raising a happy family… most of my high school and college buddies are still doing the “young” thing. I don’t know if following the kids into the deep end that one dreaded summer day prompted all this but there’s no question this is the way I am.
On another note, do you take time to learn from your experiences? The good, bad, and ugly? Do you look for the lessons in your shortcomings? Teaching moments? The messages in your defeats? How and why you are the way you are?
Well, that’s all I have for you today.
Until next time.