Our 2 weeks of summer are in full swing here in the Pacific Northwest, and as of this past weekend, I’m a master at wading into frigid lake waters. You know how it goes, right?
First, you dip your toes in.
Letting them feel their way across the mush and rocks below, hoping you won’t feel a hint of slimy seaweed or the swish of a fishtail across your ankles.
A little further out now, there you go, past your knees, then your waist.
If you are properly wading in as I do, there’s the inevitable stalling, the ineffective count down you can’t ever seem to obey, and the annoying kids who splash you in the face with their flapping feet.
Then, more lingering and wondering why you forsook the warm shoreline for this.
Finally, you realize the inevitable has come. The time has arrived for you to submerge yourself beneath the dark blue waters.
You have stood chest deep now for long enough, quietly acclimatizing to the shocking temperatures and analyzing the discomfort of this decision.
To walk out of the lake at this point feels lame, so you hold your breath, raise your shoulders, hush the part of you that craves a blanket, and you plunge into darkness.
Seconds later, you emerge more alive than when you stepped in.
Breathless, yes, but also energized, and refreshed. You feel young and wild again. Water streams down your face, drips into your eyes and mouth, and you feel the tingles all over your skin now.
We like to talk more about taking the plunge, diving off the deep end, standing at the edge of a cliff, or going cold turkey, rarely do we celebrate wading in, slowly and gingerly, with embarassing hesitation, and long bouts of doubt.
It’s not dramatic or video worthy, but a rather boring way to enter chilling waters.
But wading in is my preferred method for confronting fears, experimenting with new variations of myself, and surrendering to different seasons.
It gives me ample time to take in the experience, run through the full spectrum of my emotions, adjust to the situation, and adopt more helpful rhythms.
People may snicker from the shoreline, splash you from the side, or tell you to suck it up and jump in, but I say, ignore them.
If you need time, take it.
Catch your breath every few minutes.
Talk yourself through the changes.
But more importantly, keep going. Don’t turn back until you’ve at least gone fully under, and when you come up for air, you’ll meet another braver side of yourself, and she’ll have a story to tell you. Listen.