When Your Dream Comes From Drowning

I recently met Chuck Holt and was immediately bowled over by his generosity and passion to alleviate poverty. More about him at the bottom of the post – today he blogs about the importance of having others around to support you while you go after your dream:

I spotted it in the shallow end of the pool and walked over to see what it was.  The sun’s reflection made the dull can shine, inviting to any little boy.  At that moment I went over to check it out.  Little did I know that this decision would affect me for years to come.  I remember that day like it was yesterday even though it was almost 40 years ago.  I was 5 years old and my family was at a public pool.

I was always the kind of child that pushed the envelope.  No wonder that now my favorite phrase is “If you’re not living life on the edge, you’re taking up too much space!” Most of the people had left and it was just my mom, her friend, my sister and me (and the life guard).

As I reached into the pool to take out the soda can I fell in.  I tumbled to the bottom of the pool. I couldn’t swim and had been afraid to learn.  It probably only lasted 10 seconds but it felt like 10 minutes.  This visual can’t seem to be deleted from the hard drive of my mind.  The water was only 3 feet deep, but it might as well been a journey to the bottom of the ocean.

My mom tells me that the lifeguard sat there and laughed.  Mom and her friend jumped up and rescued me from the pool. After coughing up chlorinated pool water, I was fine.

Or was I?  That incident has scarred me. I was so afraid that when I got baptized years later I was trying to figure out how to do it without getting in the water (why did I have to grow up in a Baptist church?).  To this day, when I see a little kid near the edge of a pool it makes me cringe in fear.

This traumatic incident of reaching out into the water for a can is very much like my journey in life.  I have always ventured into risky situations that conventional wisdom would say no to.  When the path says “do not go this way,” I think, “Why not? Who says?” However, there have been times when I felt like I was tumbling down into the abyss.

Not accepting the status quo in one’s life and pressing forward to achieve dreams and goals is difficult and at times scary and lonely.  For me, I have learned the secret is that, when I am tumbling down, I have a support system that will not let me drown but will reach out and pull me out.  Therefore, regardless of the cost or consequence, I continue to reach out for those “cans” or “dreams” or “goals” in my life.  With my God, my wife and exceptional friends standing with me at the pool’s edge I can do anything.

Chuck runs “The Factory,” a youth and family center focused on the alleviation of poverty. He blogs at Intersecting Journeys.