"Every failure brings with it the seed of an equivalent success. "
-Napoleon Hill

This past weekend I blew it. 

I am living the first part of the "two steps back, one step forward" phrase..with a couple of steps back.

Or should I say, paddles back

It was not about fear exactly; I honestly never felt panicky breathing from the air regulator while underwater. It was not about discomfort (other than my mask gradually filling with water -- later I discovered even one hair between the mask and my skin breaks the water seal), anyway this made me a pro at clearing my mask while under water. 

It was an incessant little voice, "I don't want to do this." Each time the instructor covered the next skill (switch to your buddy's emergency regulator; take off your mask -- hold it for 60 seconds -- than put it back on and clear it; maintain neutral buoyancy, moving neither up nor down) the little nigglingly mental voice would repeat itself, only louder.

"I don't want to do this." 

I would shut it up and concentrate on the dive-master's instructions for the next skill but this only seemed to make the voice pushier.  It was a battle. 

I loved the feeling of weightlessness in the water though. In fact, an hour into the swim, I'd grown so used to it that when I slid a foot onto the pool step and pushed out of the water it brought a sudden weighty drag that surprised me. Too,  I'd grown used to the noise of my own breathing. We are attuned to tuning ourselves out and the racket of breathing in the air dispenser distractingly commanded my attention.  

So I finished the class but canceled my return to the second one Sunday morning.

Lessons learned:  

  1. It's hard to do hard stuff when you don't have to. In this blog I like to write stories about people who's backs are up against the wall and how they persevere through challenges. Sometimes that "backs against the wall" can be an advantage. As I am collecting ideas for my historical novel, conflict is key and I can see how an internal barrier for a character can be a greater obstacle than an external one. 
  2. A little space and distance bring clarity. I'm using this blog as reflection and noticing things I didn't see while in the water, such as how the mental voice got louder. I can use this experience for my protagonist. Just because an objection is silenced once, doesn't mean it won't return repeatedly until truly resolved. I tried ignoring the cautionary thoughts, but that made them worse. 
  3. Wet suits jam up on dry skin (get Lycra socks and shirts to avoid the building up of frustration). Not sure if I can use that in a book on 19th century France. 

Steps I’m taking to explore writing a book
Writer community: I went to my 40th high school class reunion on Saturday night. In between crooning along to Rick Springfield's "Jessie's Girl" and  Michael Jackson's "Rock with You," and then lining up for class photos I caught up with a former classmate, Allison, from all those decades ago. It turns out -- she's a writer! --  one more person to weave into my writer connection tapestry. She's written a fantasy (not published yet) but when it is, I'll be sure to let you know. 

I just checked on my scuba gear and it's still a little damp. While it's drying out completely, I'll be thinking about whether to return to the water or not. Meanwhile here's a final thought from Napoleon Hill. 

Your big opportunity may be right where you are now. you scuba dive?