"But will I tear my ACL?" I asked.
"I really don't want to tear my ACL." My girlfriend laughed at me over the phone—assuring me that I wouldn't tear my ACL. This is no laughing matter, I thought, people tear their ACLs doing this all the time. I had never wake boarded before, but here in the waters surrounding Camp Alamisco, I would have a go.
After the camp staff assured me I wouldn't tear my ACL, I prepared to go in. While strapping in, the camp staff realized I had never wake boarded before, and they began to instruct me. Mmhmm, I nodded along; Cody Reich from Mt. Aetna Summer Camp had instructed many campers in my presence last summer. I knew the theory.
My first attempt was a fail. The second was a false start, but on the third pull, I got up on the wake board and began to coast. I was doing it! I was gliding on the waters!
I felt the boat pick up speed. I panicked. I pulled myself forward, somehow believing I might get left behind, and of course the front end of my board nosedived. Letting go of the rope and aborting immediately felt like the safest thing to do, so I did.
In the last few months, I have been enjoying life as a dating man. After the horrific ending to my previous relationship(s), I really wondered if there would be any more of this dating in my life. The unmarried life worked for Paul, right? I didn't feel like damaging more humans.
But of course, vigor returned and then I met a beautiful Cuban-American Masshole who has taken a chance on me, and now, I social media about how wonderful she is. I know, I know; I'm Danny Garza now. I can't believe it either.
I can't believe it because I can't believe I might experience competency or success in life. In times past, I have dated. In times past, I have dated and left to far away lands for a season. In times past, I have dated, said nice things to parents, posted social media and garnered likes. In times past, I have dated for several months and then destroyed everything. That's my history, and I have to own it if I'm going to change it.
As excited as I am about Yaniz Seeley, I am keenly aware of my lack of relational "success." I have never maintained a functional, healthy relationship beyond three months.
A couple weeks ago, Yaniz and I moved beyond the four-month period. That's a figure that is both small and YUGE in a way that can only be understood by someone terrified of success. In the same way that ten seconds of wake boarding at 15mph can feel terrifying for the novice, so too can even a few months of health feel terrifying for those who struggle to remember anything beyond dysfunction.
It's possible this relationship remains healthy.
It's possible this relationship may not.
It's possible your relationship, your job, your career, your goal, your vision, your whatever may pan out and become a great story to tell.
And it's possible your relationship, your job, your career, your goal, your vision, your whatever may not pan out and it becomes a story about how you remained great despite a little hiccup.
Some of us operate expecting and anticipating the first scenario; and others operate hoping and wishing to avoid the second scenario. I know I often engage in activities afraid to fail, rather than trying to make the most of the experience, whether that be growth, competency, or success.
How can I do enough to give the impression that I am trying, and yet be able to hold back just enough to tell myself—in case I fall in the water—that I definitely had more in the tank...
That's the mindset of those who are afraid of success. That's the mindset of those living afraid to fail rather than living excited to experience fully.
What are you more afraid of—failing or succeeding?
If you fail to get up on the wake board of life, then you get to throw a pity party for yourself and bemoan the board or the boat or the driver or the waters or heck, just blame God while you are at it. But if you succeed in getting up on the wake board, well now you have to ride and glide and maybe even jump.
How much time do we have left? Can I do one more ride? Yea, you can do one more ride the driver who I sort of knew from Southern said back. Great, I'm gonna do one more ride. I want to jump the wake. That's the next step; that's what Cody would tell the kids once they managed to get up. I closed my eyes and pictured how he would do it—sweeping far out away from the boat and then zipping into and over the wake. I can do that. I can do it. Don't be afraid of falling. Better to try than not to try at all; you're not rich so boat experiences don't come around often.
The boat pulled, and I got up. I glanced over at the wake. I shifted my weight, moving away from the wake and then I shifted back to approach it. In my mind, I had swept far from the wake, gathered speed, and hit it—like Cody did.
In reality, I moved maybe four feet away, gathered no speed, and slowly immersed myself in the wake, thereby losing balance and plunging into the warm Alabama waters.
I'm back on the boat now. Luke Steen is looking at me. That was the slowest wake hit I have ever seen. Luke's words and eyes held mischief not contempt. I know! I didn't get any speed. Yeah, but you did great. That was really good for your first time—you did well. And I didn't tear my ACL.