As a youngster, there was one activity that characterized my summers – swimming. I loved to go to the public swimming pool and stay until my fingers and toes were wrinkled up like prunes. It was the place to be as a teenager in the late 70's. Since there were no tanning beds, the girls would all show up with towels, tanning lotion, and a radio, and lay in the sun until the local DJ would give the cue to turn. The guys, on the other hand, would line up at the diving boards (which just happened to be by the girls) and take turns doing our best imitation of an Olympic diver. Unlike today, our swimming pool was equipped with both a high dive and a shorter one and there were always a couple of older guys who were willing to teach us younger ones the art of perfecting certain dives. I can remember learning full and half gainers, 1 ½'s, and of course all of the maneuvers that provided the biggest splash (These sort of determined male dominance among the girls.)
When I think about these special times, there are two things that come to mind. First, I always remember the line to the high dive being much shorter than the one to the lower one. And I also remember all the times I flopped, crashed, and burned, trying to learn a new dive. I can still feel the stinging sensation from a flip gone awry. But I can also remember getting back in line and doing it again, and again, and again.
Now, fast forward from the Bee Gees and Boston, to Bublé and Beyoncé. Fast forward from a skinny youth with no tolerance for quitting no matter how much pain, to a plumper older guy who tends to refrain from any activity that requires both learning and pain. Fast forward from a shivering boy on a high dive to someone who fights the temptation to linger around the lower, easier, and safer places of life. Some would say I am older and wiser now, and that is true. But being older and wiser was never meant to keep me from scaling new heights and even from the occasional belly flop. Being older and wiser is only meant to help me determine which pools I am meant to be spending my time swimming in.