I grew up on a boat. Well, I didn’t live on a boat, but we always had one. The first memory I have of a boat is of our family camping trips. My dad built a plywood camping box that fit on the luggage rack of our white Pontiac station wagon. He painted it red and filled it with our tent, sleeping bags and supplies. It was quite a sight to see our family driving down the road. A white ‘66 station wagon with a long red coffin-looking box on top, three kids and a dog inside.
After setting up the campsite, my parents loaded snacks, blankets, fishing poles and three kids in the boat and took us night fishing for trout. Once the trolling lines were untangled and the cowbell strings were dangling in the water, my dad steered the boat slowly back and forth across the lake. The moon created sparkling diamonds on the water as the waves slapped the sides of the boat. My brother, sister and I were wrapped in blankets and snuggled together under the bow of the boat with just enough space for everyone. The vibration of the motor mesmerized us to sleep. It was magical.
As years went by, our tent turned into campers and our boats became bigger. Water skiing became our pastime. I remember rushing to the lake with my brother just as the sun was coming up and the lake was smooth as glass. That was the best time to ski- before the other boats broke the glass. As a young beginner, I would hold the rope tightly, concentrating on staying right behind the boat while my brother would motion with his arms for me to jump the wake and ski to the side.
I was afraid. The wake seemed so big. I knew the outside of the wake was smooth, fast and fun, but I was afraid I would fall. I was afraid to make the jump. I ignored him.
My brother was proficient at slalom skiing. He would jump the wake with ease and ski to the side as if racing the boat and then leaning back to allow the slack in the rope to catch up he created a rainbow spray twice as tall as he was. It was impressive. I was in awe.
Then one day it was time. I was skiing like I always did, white-knuckling the handle of the rope and then I tried to make the jump. It was a spectacular fall and the splash was impressive. My fear was validated.
I tried again. I’m not exactly sure how many times I tried before I made it successfully to the other side. I hit the smooth spot, I raced the boat, I made a small spray. I did it. I don’t know how many times my brother and I skied together over the years, but I will never forget the first time I jumped the wake.
Since then, I have jumped wakes in life many times. I’m not always successful. It isn’t always pretty. I’ve had times when the fall was painful. But it takes courage to try. You are not always going to hit the smooth spot and create that magical spray of water that surrounds you with the awe of others. It is in taking the risk, that you build the confidence to try again and again.
I have never matched my brother’s level of skiing. In life, there will always be those who jump the wake higher, race the boat faster and send a larger spray of success across the glass.
In life, there will always be those who grip the handle staying behind the boat happily enjoying the safety inside the wake.
In life, there will always be those who never get in the water, but they love to navigate the boat while cheering for the skier.
Which one are you? There is no one right answer. We need all three. Without the navigator no one could ski. Without the people skiing on the outside of the wake there would never be giant sprays of success. And without the ones who stay between the lines of the wake we wouldn’t have a zone of safety to lean into.
And even within those three choices there will always be someone who is better (and worse) at the task than we are. This is what causes balance in life. This is what creates space for everyone. This is what makes life magical.
Pennie’s Life Lesson: In life we get to choose which space to hold.
We get to create our own magic.
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There is a certain magic about where I live both physically and spiritually – on the crossroads of Spirit and Brave.
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