I was taking a bath
long about a Saturday night
Just relaxin in the tub
Thinkin everything was alright
When trying or learning something new, is it better to dive in or to wade in gradually? Or to do something in between, say quickly jump off the side ladder into the middle of the pool? I think all can work. It depends on who we are, where we are and what we’re doing on any given day.
For example, I admire the person who created this makeshift bumper sticker – “Learning Stick.” He or she seems to be saying, “I’m in the middle of the road here, in the middle of learning. I’m taking chances but I’m giving you a warning, creating a safe zone, hopefully one without your middle finger.”
I learned to drive a stick shift in an in-between way too. Back in the early 70s, I fell in love with the sporty new Mercury Capri when I needed a new car. It only came with a manual transmission – and I didn’t know how to drive one. I bought the car anyway and had a girlfriend drive it home. She stayed the night and the next morning, a Saturday, we got up at 5 a.m. for my stick shift driving lesson. Fortunately my friend had a calm nature and a good sense of humor and it was dark and quiet except for my little car’s screeching brakes and howling gears.
On Sunday morning I got up early by myself for my first solo stick shift drive, lurching around the neighborhood. I dreaded Monday morning and my 10-mile drive to work. It was awful. I lurched and stalled my whole way there and then spent the work day dreading my return trip home. It was just as awful – lots of traffic, honking, grinding of teeth and gears and cursing. Each day got better, however, and finally the stick shift became second nature and for many years I loved it and went on to own more sports cars with manual transmissions.
Yes, this middle ground works for me. It usually includes a helping hand, literally or figurative. For example, learning to swim. My parents jumped off a dock and encouraged me to paddle in clear lake water between them. Then my grandfather held me up on my back in the Atlantic waters off Cape Cod. “The salt water keeps you floating” he said, gently removing his hand, and before I knew it, I was swimming on my own. These helping hands can take many forms – friends, family, teachers, counselors, books, classes, groups.
Of course, what lurks on the unknown road or in the deep, dark waters is fear. Anything new worth doing is scary.” Many books have been written to help us with this, including the classic “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway,” by Susan Jeffers. If we want to get anywhere new, challenge ourselves, we have to acknowledge our fear and figure out a way to deal with it while still moving forward.
For some of us, or for certain goals, this means taking tiny steps into the shallow waters until we are afloat. For others, it means plunging right in and hoping the water does not knock us out. For me, it’s often a combination of these – thinking for awhile and grappling with fear until it seems silly to sit in the toddler pool and better to get it the hell over with and jump in over my head. And hope there is a party goin on …
I was splishin and a splashin
rollin and a strollin
movin and a groovin
realin with the feelin
Splishin and a splashin
on a Saturday night