It’s not the danger that’s important. It’s the action.

“I wonder how deep it is?” It was 1962 when my brother asked this question, two months before my 6th birthday. The world was in turmoil…the failed invasion of Cuba in 1961 was followed by the assassination of JFK in November 1963. The cold war was in full swing and every sane American was searching for Russian spies. But I didn’t care.

It’s not the danger that’s important. It’s the action.
Do not index
Do not index
Let me explain.
“I wonder how deep it is?” It was 1962 when my brother asked this question, two months before my 6th birthday. The world was in turmoil…the failed invasion of Cuba in 1961 was followed by the assassination of JFK in November 1963. The cold war was in full swing and every sane American was searching for Russian spies.
But I didn’t care.
At that moment, the world was something that I could see, touch, bask in. It was summer, and I had no deeper thoughts than the sun, beaches, and – yes – the enjoyment of watching girls in bikinis walking along the shoreline, the gentle waves lapping at tanned legs as they strolled along. (I was starting to understand why my oldest brother was spending less time playing with me and far more time talking to the tanned bombshells that inhabited this beach resort every summer.)
With the arrival of the summer holidays, the population of Rosebud (a sleepy little beach resort a couple of hours’ drive from Melbourne, Australia) would swell from a couple of thousand to tens of thousands of sun-worshiping beach-goers, the money in their pockets supporting the local community for the non-summer periods.
But I didn’t care about that either. I didn’t give it a thought.
Nope. At that moment, my thoughts were echoing those of my brother’s. He was just one year older than me and I idolized him.
How deep could it be?
Earlier that day, we had broken the rules. In a big way.
My family owned a small vacation house, nothing special, but it was a place that brought us kids a great deal of joy every summer when we would spend several weeks at the beach – swimming, playing, exploring. The only thing more important than playing on the beach was the occasional visit to the local carnival. Every summer the carnival lights would turn on, the music would blare and the crowds would come. I recall watching the lights on the Ferris wheel, and the carnival rides, blinking and flashing … a cacophony of light, whirling endlessly among the faces of the children looking in awe at the scary rides (and wishing we were brave enough to try them).
But on this day many decades ago, the carnival was silent.
I was aware of the brilliantly hot sun baking my tanned skin. It was still morning but the temperature was rising rapidly, ominously predicting record temperatures. The sun reflected from the water making it impossible to see below the surface. A few seagulls were circling, squawking loudly as they fought over a scrap of food they had found. The breeze was non-existent; an omen, perhaps?
Squinting against the sun’s reflection, I could see the bottom…it wasn’t that far! Squinting tighter, my eyes becoming dark slits in my darker tanned face, and I could see a couple of small fish swimming along the bottom, a few strands of deep green seaweed seductively stroking the floor, and a small crab scurrying back to its hole in the sand.
“It’s not deep,” I yelled, as I stood and jumped over the side. We had taken our eldest brother’s paddle board that morning.
While we had a great degree of freedom in our childhood, one of the rules that was inviolable was that we were not to take the paddle board out without adult supervision. It was too big for us. At around 6 feet long and 2 feet wide, the plywood board was too difficult for us to carry, even though it had carry handles. The layers of marine varnish kept the wooden board in seaworthy condition, but also meant it was slippery, especially when it was wet.
At 6 and 7 years of age, we lacked the physical size and strength to maneuver the beast out of the water, and when on the water we had to work as a team to move it, with Les taking the front, standing up and balancing as he used the paddles to propel us. I sat at the back, doing everything possible to keep it balanced.
On this day, we had discovered that if Les grabbed the front handle, and I grabbed the back, we could carry it short distances. We took it to the beach. We pushed it into the water. We paddled furiously away from shore…and went further than we had ever been before.
Far further than any adult would have allowed us to go.
The water was colder than expected, causing me to nearly gasp and suck in a lung-full. It was much deeper, too.
Before I knew it I was sitting on the bottom of the ocean, bubbles coming out of my mouth, eyes wide open as I surveyed the sea life … from under the sea.
My eyes followed the air bubbles.
Up and up they went, and I remember seeing the shape of the paddle board way above me; the light of the sun creating a halo around its shape.
It was then that I realized that I was in trouble.
Yes, I could swim a little, and was comfortable in water … but I had never been this deep before, and I had never been this scared before.
Somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew I had a couple of choices, and that if I chose the wrong one, I may not survive:
1. I could panic and flail my arms around, until my breath fully escaped and I sucked in the relief that only a lung-full of water could bring, or
2. I could use all my strength to push up off the bottom and fight my way to the surface – a single objective, a single path, a drive to success.
When I broke the surface, gasping and coughing, my brother looked down at me and said, “Well, that looked like fun! Did you enjoy the view?”
Clambering back onto the paddle board, laughing and coughing at the same time, I had no idea that this event would be so important to my life.
After all, we were just kids doing something dumb, right? Was I ever really in danger? To this day, I have no idea. How deep was it? If you asked me back then I would have said, “5 miles,” but today … maybe it was only 10 feet, maybe 12?
You see, it is not the danger, or even the perceived danger, that is important here.
It is the action.
And I learned that day, and many days since, that the decisions we make can make a huge difference to the direction of our life. But making a decision is only half the story – it is the action that follows that makes the difference.
We can make decisions all day long. It is easy to decide that we will pay off our credit cards. It is much harder to do it. It is easy to decide we will spend more time with our family, but it is much harder to do it.
You have the tools to make it easy to make decisions…but do you have the will to take the action?
Are you going to flail around under a sea of fear, an ocean of doubt, your arms thrashing violently as you try to subdue the inner entrepreneur that is seeking release, eventually succumbing to a life that lacks the purpose that you were born for?
Or are you ready to push back, to take purposeful action, to use every skill you have learned, and practiced, to rise to the surface and laugh as you realize you can do it, you have done it…you are on your way to your destination. You are on your way to the purpose that you were born into.
Are you ready?


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