BANG. BANG. The swimmer’s starting gun went off. Without taking a breath, Rachel flung herself off the block, dove headlong into her lane, and plowed forward, abruptly encountering a dropped rope. She heard the horn. Confused, she pushed the rope off and just kept swimming.
Again, they dropped the rope. This time, more confused and more even more determined, she untangled herself and took off again. Breathless, she swam freestyle to the opposite pool wall. At age six, my twin bolted into the water for her first race. Ever.
At the finish line, Rachel looked around and saw no other swimmers. She initially thought, “I beat everyone by a mile.” Her victory celebration ended abruptly when someone explained to her about the false start.
At this point, everyone at the swim meet watched. Without hesitation, Rachel climbed out of the pool. With courage, she walked the long stretch back to waiting competitors. She stood back up on that starting block, secured her goggles, and raced again. This time she truly won the race.
People often describe swimming as a solitary sport; a chance to seek one’s personal best and work towards a team victory. With Rachel this resonated; her very first race was with herself. Her truest win came as she climbed out of the pool at the finish line of the race, walked right back to the start, and raced again.
After the burst of New Year resolutions, most of us experience some kind of false start and, of course, confusion. As a writer, I experience the “rope-drop” all the time. It takes courage to even start a project, let alone face future rejections. Those editorial send-offs are my biggest false starts. The pile of who I need to research, query and submit to overwhelms me. This year, like Rachel, I need to remember that true courage happens when I step back into the mess and start yet again. I might be slow to catch on, but I am steady. Thanks to my twin’s experience, I know that second starts are even more important that the first start.
In the incredible now, how will you step into 2016? What will happen if you enter headlong and breathless with courageous determination over and over again? What past ropes of confinement, struggles, and failures entangle you? Where can a second start lead to a first victory?
Your Brave Tutu (You’re brave, too-too!)