I made up this rule when I was a kid: If I’m afraid of something, I must try it.
So, that’s how I found myself strapped onto a wakeboard on a Borneo river.
As a required safety feature of our floatplane water base, MAF owns a speed boat, which is also a way our team of Americans and Indonesians plays together. The rest make it look so easy to get up on that board, gliding past the monkey-filled forest and our red and white floatplanes.
But I’d been trying to wakeboard for several months, each time ending with far was too much river water in my belly, sore muscles, and face-smacking failure.
“Be patient and hold on,” shouts my coach, one of my MAF teammates, from the boat.
He means what he’s already told me zillions of times, “Take your time standing up. Let the force of the boat pulling you do its part, too.”
Be patient. Hold on. It sounds simple enough … even something my child self would say. But the years have taught me other things. Life isn’t easy. Simply wanting something badly doesn’t guarantee success. And being an adult can be. So. Very. Tiring.
And yet, I see my teammate’s words around me here in my Indonesian town.
I see them in the story of an Indonesian woman with whom I chatted this week. I see how she wouldn’t give up — for five years! — on the vision she had for her community even though almost everyone told her she’d fail. I also see them in my neighbor’s determination to create a school here that offers something different and important and amazing. And I see it in her offer to invite me and others into the process.
Bobbing on the river, I close my eyes and try to find the words, the resilience and the adventure again in myself. I squeeze my hands on the handle, then nod at the boat driver.
And I brace for the force.
Somehow, in just a split second, I go from being dragged along to gliding on top of the water.
I’m shocked, my legs wobbly, an eventual wipeout coming. But I manage to stay up long enough to smile big at my husband and kids, to glance at the MAF floating hangar that we pass, and feel utter awe of what hope-stronger-than-fear can do.