Column: Diving from humiliation

I have a very simple goal this summer.

It’s so simple a child could do it. In fact, most children can already. As can a few select creatures from the animal kingdom.

I wish to dive into water.

Sure, I can dive in the loosest sense of the word. I can drop my body head first into a swimming pool or lake. But this doesn’t take much talent. This includes climbing the stairs of a diving board, walking cautiously to the edge, tipping my head and hands toward the water and, most importantly, hoping my butt follows.

And even this simple method of diving doesn’t always go as planned.

Sometimes my posterior decides it wants to be horizontally parallel with my head. It doesn’t get this opportunity often, so it takes advantage of the chance when it can. Like when I’m in mid-air. Unfortunately this causes a medical condition known in professional circles as the belly flop.


So I’ve decided to learn how to actually dive. I want to run along the diving board, jump high into the air, arc gracefully like a dolphin, maybe do a somersault and then, of course, finish with a spectacularly painful belly flop.

I just can’t seem to figure out the motion of it all. Every time I jump off the board, my body freezes and frantically asks, “Why are we plunging headfirst toward Earth’s gravitational pull? Are you sure this is a good idea?” To which I replay, “Ouch!” having just landed belly first into the water.

So there it is out there for anybody to know. I’m afraid to dive. Laugh if you wish. It’s okay. I can take it. Just don’t be like my father and try to teach me how to dive by clutching me tightly and diving yourself. It’s not a pleasant experience. I’d rather not go through it again.

What I need is for Dr. Phil to tell my head everything is going to be okay. The water is not going to hurt it. The water is friendly and welcoming. It only wants to give my head a warm embrace.

Phooey on that. The water wants to hurt me.

I suppose the only thing left for me to do is practice. Practice makes perfect, they say. But practice also makes for humiliating experiences.

I’ll be 24 years old soon. This means two very important things.

First, it means there is not an overflow of money in my pockets. In fact, money doesn’t even reach my pockets. The Bill Monster snatches it on the way from my hand to my pocket as I’m coming out of the bank. Thus, I do not own a pool.

Secondly, I’m much too old to be doing “baby dives” off the diving board in a public pool. Yet, if I want to learn how to dive, I must to do exactly that. In other words, in order to stop embarrassing myself at the pool, I must embarrass myself on a consistent basis until I’m at the point where I no longer embarrass myself.

Now I’m not only afraid to dive, I’m also terribly confused.

But if I truly wish to dive, I must swallow my pride along with a gallon full of water attempting to perfect the dastardly maneuver.

It will be worth it. You’ll see. By this time next year, I’ll be diving like a penguin. Or at least a graceful bear.

And then I’ll wish to learn how to do a back flip.

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