I like to perfect things first.
I like to be really good on the very first try.
[It could be the reason I quit playing the violin after a week.]
When I was little, I'd stay at things a short while and then leave. I'd grow tired of not getting it right, of not being good enough. Deep down I'd think, "It shouldn't be this hard. If I were supposed to be a violinist and stick with it, it would just come easy, right?"
Now, I'd like to think I've grown out of this. And in some ways I have. In some ways, I stretch and push until it hurts because deep down, I believe all that pain and sweat is worth it.
There is yoga in my life to prove that. Amen?
But there are those other days of staring at a mountain instead of walking towards it. Of aching for perfection and praying that it will all just come easy. That somehow all the mismatched, tender pieces will fall into place just as they should.
You see somedays, I am still that little girl, not wanting to roll up my sleeves, get messy and just try.
I was at the gym a few days ago; my bike faced the pool. A young boy and older man were in the water. The older man was teaching the younger boy to swim. The first few minutes on the bike I watched as the boy flailed his arms wildly. I saw water splash in and up his face. I saw his eyes water when he lost his footing and went under.
The older man stayed near, talking through each step, showing how to move his arms, encouraging him to swim out further.
Just a little further this time.
The boy never hesitated. He never grew too tired or frustrated. He listened to that man, gave him a nod and swam out. Continuing to splash and breath and kick.
He did this over and over and over again.
And with each passing minute, his arms and legs grew more familiar to that water. Each time he swam further from the edge I'd think, "Just a little further Maeve, stay on the bike. I know you're tired. But stay on, just a little while longer. Don't give up yet."
If you've been here before, you know I write a lot about being brave. I write about taking big leaps and giving in and living with radical love and obedience.
But I think I left out a really vital part, dear ones.
Because you see, I doubt that young boy learned to swim by diving head first into the deep end. There had to be steps. There had to be moments, little tiny moments of dipping his toe in, sitting on the steps, standing in the shallow end - first.
What if today, what if for right now, being brave meant stepping up to the edge.
What if it meant just looking out into the water and saying, "I see you. I see how big and vast and grand you are. And the thought of swimming terrifies me. So for today, I'm going to stand next to you and take it all in. I'm just going to dip my toe in the water."
Sometimes, that's all we can muster - dipping our toe in.
And I hope you know, that's enough. I hope you believe me when I say dipping your toe in is HUGE. It isn't small, it isn't insignificant.
Because sometimes, dipping our toe in means deciding to get out of bed in the morning. It means calling that friend we haven't talked to in a while. It means sitting down and finally writing a letter.
When we start somewhere, anywhere, we make room for something big. We make room for the leaps.
Because that phone call or letter leads to a response. And that response leads to an invitation. An invitation to sit side by side on your neighbors couch, cups of coffee in hand, her sharing life has been hard, really hard lately.
It leads to pouring two glasses of wine, walking next door, and asking if you can come in because you heard them fighting and wanted to make sure she was okay.
Being brave is going to look different for you and me. It's going to look different in each season and chapter too.
Some days it's going to feel a lot like learning to swim when it seems as though everyone else is diving in head first. Some days it's going to feel so easy and freeing, like we were made for this. And other days, we might wish we never started at all.
But I'm not sure if where we land or step in really matters as much as coming back to the shore.
Coming back when we'd rather stay in bed. When we'd rather not have our heartbroken once more or feel rejected or be completely open and honest.
What matters more is coming back, staring out at the wild, unruly shore and simply dipping your toe in.