When I was young, I loved the water. I probably still do, but not enough to go out of my way to find it. In those days I progressed all the way to a life guard’s license though to tell the truth, I wasn’t really good enough to actually be a life guard. That was not about the water and my capacity in the water, it was about my emotional maturity.
One of the best things was diving. I didn’t really get into the high board work but I loved the low board and could do several basic dives, and then half gainers. I loved being able to do half gainers. That dive made me exquisitely aware of the moment of decision. There is a whole set of things one has to do in that dive. Physically it is quite complex because one goes off the board with an unusual direction. It is as if one is deliberately aiming to hit the board, and it feels just like that. The truth is different because one has used a forward motion that continues after the approach. That is why there are a couple steps forward in a dive approach, to gain forward momentum that will continue and take the diver decidedly out beyond the board.
That doesn’t matter to the viscera; at least it didn’t matter to mine. In the half gainer the diver must loop backward toward the board, and there is a time in the middle of the dive where the diver has kicked his feet up while bending backwards. He is in the air basically lying flat with his back toward the water, and then he curls further backward and enters head first. The board will not be in sight. The sky is in sight. My gut told me every time that I was taking a bad risk.
That instinct made the moment of decision really stand out. I realized just before I made my approach that I had almost no time to abort. The only way through was to really try for the dive and that had to happen just before the final jump because my body had to go backwards while I was going forwards and there was no faking it. The whole thing rested on an instant.
So too with any other life decision, these decisions rest on an instant as well. Usually there are so many things happening that the decisive moment can slip past and not be noticed too well. It is good practice to become better aware of them. How about the moment I really asked Ann if she would let me be with her? Or the moment when we knew we were moving to Oregon together? Or the moment we knew we were really going to marry? Immediately after those moments everything had changed.
My friend Erin loves it when I write of the gaps. One of the gaps in things is at the peak of the tiny pause at the moment of decision. The world is one way before, another way after. When does an inhale change to an exhale?
there's really no other kind,
only how long it takes
to reach the balance
required for hearts to open.
Indeed like flowers
and like the birdsong
not as birds mean their beauty
but as we hear it,
that's how we can live.
May 5, 2009 12:13 PM
13 hours ago