That is my son and his buddy, right before they disappeared from sight over a rapid.
I want my kids to take risk. I want them to skin their knees, loose control and learn from mistakes. And as I turned around to watch my youngest dive into the rapid on a boogie board, the boys slipped from sight into a rapid.
After sprinting down the bank to check on them it occurred to me that it was going to take a LOT of work to catch them. Once I saw them and they me, they stood up and raised their arms over their heads with two thumbs up. They were more than fine. So I watched and they figured out how to get back.
Once they returned, “Dad, that was awesome!”. They went on to describe what it was like, what had happened and all that they had discovered in just a few minutes. In reality, the water was only a couple of feet deep and if they had fallen out, the could have been on their hands and knees and been just fine.
One of the greatest gifts my dad ever gave me as a boy was the freedom to make my own boat and launch it. He left me to spend the afternoon paddling it in a pond. I only did it once and only for a few hours, but to this day, I remember that feeling. Freedom, confidence, and empowerment. Years later he told me how worried he was.
Driving home it occurred to me, how much of my time is spent NOT going down the rapid. For me, the “art” I create is a user experience in something that I care about. I provide the protection and the safety for the experience to happen, but do I go over the rapid, taking risk and see what I’ll learn?
I’d like to think that I do, but there are times when I play it safe. Honestly, there are times when fear or time or expectations keep me from pushing over the edge and really learning what it’s like. So the goal for me is to not hold back. To let the current take me down the river and learn.
I want to get beyond the rapid, turn around and hold up both my thumbs and say “That was awesome!”.