When I was a young’un, I used to go swimming at Crystal Palace. It was a 90 minute bus ride but it was worth it because that was the only place that had Olympic-size diving boards.
I remember so clearly the day that I first stood on the edge of that 10 metre board and looked down and it was a long, long way to the water.
There’s a weird psychology game that goes on in dare situations like that. If you climb up to the top and just peek, you are allowed to come down again. Sure, your friends will make fun of you and call you a wuss but that’s OK. You can’t accept every dare.
But if you go to the very edge with your feet together, you are declaring to your friends… and to the world… and to yourself that you intend to dive off and that there will be no turning back.
It can take an eternity to finally screw your courage to the sticking place and take the plunge, but you know you are going to do it come what may. You go through umpteen false alarms of starting to lean into the dive and then realizing that the time is not yet ripe (and hoping your friends didn’t notice) until eventually you lean and then keep leaning and, with a tiny push! from your toes you are flying then falling falling falling with a rush of air and fear until boom! you are in the water and the thrill washes you clean.
As you break the surface and rise blinking into the sunlight you hear the yells of appreciation from your friends and the world is so great right at that moment that you wonder why you waited so long.
I’ve spent enough time on the edge now. Just one tiny push! and I fall into a new tomorrow.