53. Conquering hesitation rock

At a particular ocean beach at a holiday spot a couple of hours from where Benny grew up, and which he visited with his family a few times in his younger days, there was a wide and deep tide pool that formed in the seaweed covered rock shelf at low tide. The pool was close in to shore where the sandy beach ended and the rocky shelf began, which made it easy to get to. As well there was a large rock formation that rose up in a rough shape right next to the tidal pool. This made the pool a favourite for summer adventurers, both young and old, to jump into. Not only was the top of the rock, which happened to be right above the water, not too high (about six metres) but there was also a secondary jumping point on the same side only about four metres up — much more acceptable for the more nervous types who were not quite ready for the big jump. And although you could see the bottom, the pool was deep enough for the high divers — it was also very wide, so was a big target.

Another positive was that there were few inward overhanging sides to the pool, which made it seem safer because there were no lurking edges, and one section on the shore side usually seemed tentatively joined to the beach by having a steep sandy bank sloping down nearly all the way to the bottom, which made it much easier to get in and out. Years later Benny was reminded about that pool, and that it didn’t fill with sand, while watching a nature show on TV about intertidal zones, and that the reason his holiday rock pool probably didn’t have a lot more sand in it could have been because of the combined action of waves and incoming tides, which would most likely have scooped out any extra sand that otherwise would have kept sliding in.

Being at the top of the high rock was an issue for our younger Benny, and he could never quite work up the required gumption to take that final leap. From the lower ledge, yes… he could do that, after a few tries, and when everyone else he was with did it. But not way up there on the top. Benny had of course climbed up to that upper jumping spot on a few occasions, had stood there with his toes near the edge, looking over and down into the clear water below, with voices from down there somewhere urging him to jump. He even felt himself making tentative advances, then retreats, ‘should I’, ‘shouldn’t I’, going forward, backing away, ‘maybe another look’, ‘no not ready yet’ sort of approaches. But it was always too much of an ask for him to make the final decision and step out from the solid rock and into the waiting airspace. It was a particular vacillation he remembered in conjunction with that occasional summer destination, the leaving of which invariably concluded with a pact to really try to make the jump next time — a pledge which was repeated until he actually did it, in the last summer before getting his learner driving permit.

That was an amazing experience for the Benny of that time, who had just started to wake up. Much later he would realise just how many efforts, not just on that rock but in many circumstances, can be stymied just through having vacillated in the first place. That back-and-forth can be unnecessary on so many occasions, and it seems to be done just through fear of making a mistake. In a way, he should have been making as many mistakes as possible, and in that way learn to not make them again. Later it would slowly crystallise; if there was one main thing that resulted from his vacillating, it was that he became better at it.

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