I took the first step. My toe touched the water. Then one foot was immersed. Wow, that’s cold. Okay, keep going, I said to myself. The second foot went in. And I stopped. It was boiling hot outside, and I felt cooler with just my feet lapping the water. But I had to go on. I took a few steps in to the lake, until first my knees were covered then my thighs. I looked around at the deep lake beyond and knew I had to go on. It was cold. Very cold. I don’t like cold water. But I was determined to go further. I had to take the plunge – all the way in.
This is not some vivid dream I had this summer or a parable out of some book of legends. This was me, last week, as I stood on the water’s edge, by the lake, in the mountains, right here in Canada.
For most of this summer, okay most summers, I’m happy to sit on the sidelines, relaxed on a lounger, and watch others swim and splash in the lake. I don’t love cold water, but really that’s not the reason I avoid it. For me, and I am going to throw it out there – for many people – it’s easier to sit and watch, to let someone else do it, to stay away from risk, to keep the status quo. I could describe it ten other ways. Basically, it’s harder to take the plunge and go in the water than to stay on the shore.
Back to my first steps into the lake last week. I had been thinking about taking the plunge for a while. I sit at a desk all day working, and I spend most of my evening in the kitchen. It bothered me that I wasn’t very active, and I watched many people around me find time every day to cycle, run, hike, and yes, swim. I had to do something about that. I had to act.
I waited for a hot day, and into the lake I stepped. Slowly. One foot in front of the other. I kept thinking to myself, what am I doing? Am I crazy? It’s freezing! There are better ways to be active. I almost turned around many times. I stood in the lake, submerged to my waist, for a long time. Finally, I gained my composure, and yes, I took the plunge.
I went in. It was freezing cold. I screamed. I cursed. Then I calmed down, and I swam. I kept moving, and it was exhilarating. After a few minutes the cold didn’t bother me. I kept swimming, all the way to the raft that lives a short distance from our dock. I was out of breath and took a break when I reached the raft. Wow, I was out of shape. I gained some strength, turned around, and I swam back to our dock.
I emerged from the water triumphant. I did it! And I felt great. That moment of exhilaration, when I took the plunge, was very meaningful. It made me pause and think about who I am, what I do, and the choices I make. And it made me want to swim again!
Since that moment, I have taken the plunge, into the lake, for a swim, every day. My confidence builds every day (as I close my rings on my iWatch too!). But that moment, the first dip in the lake, has pushed me to take the plunge to do more than just take a swim in cold water. It made me realize that it’s hard to accomplish anything if I’m just sitting there, on the sidelines. Yes, it’s easy to be stagnant, to relax on a comfy chair and live with the status quo. But is that what I really want?
Clearly, the answer is no. This plunge into the lake helped me raise up my voice, assertively, and take steps towards some life goals and career goals, How can I take on more responsibility, do the work I want to do, or work with the people I want to work with, if I don’t take the plunge and tell people how I feel and what I want? I’m not a shy person, but when it comes to my personal growth, I admit, I am often quiet and reserved. It’s not that I always put others ahead of myself, but I’m hesitant, even anxious sometimes, to act.
If I’m comfortable, I stay put. Sometimes that’s okay, but my plunge into the lake reminded me that I need to take a cold refreshing swim more often. It’s worth it. How will I know until I try it? I tried it. I took the plunge. Into the lake. Into my work, and my life. And I’m loving it. I encourage everyone to take a plunge of some kind. It’s worth it.