At age 15, I attended a summer camp where I developed a major crush on a cute girl named Roberta. Since the boys’ and girls’ sides of the camp were separate and the two groups rarely interacted, I saw Roberta only occasionally and at a distance. But when I did, my heart sang.
One evening, the camp leaders took pity on our pining adolescent hormones and organized a coed excursion to a roller skating rink. There I got up the nerve to invite Roberta to skate with me. We held hands for a few minutes and I was in heaven. I didn’t wash that hand for weeks. (Not that I washed it much anyway.)
I saw Roberta a few more times during the summer, but felt shy and tongue-tied. She was such a babe and I was such a dweeb, I concluded. We said hi politely, but that was it.
Summer ended and we went home to separate cities. I thought often of Roberta, cherishing the evening I touched her and the few thrilling moments we connected. I dearly wished to meet someone else I felt so excited about.
Three years later I saw Roberta at a party. She was still so beautiful, and I felt that sparkle again. To my dismay, she showed me an engagement ring on her finger.
More confident at 18 than 15, I revealed my feelings for her.
"When we were in summer camp I had a huge crush on you," I confessed. "The night we skated together was the highlight of my summer. I have thought about you a lot since them."
A bittersweet smile grew over Roberta’s face. "I have a confession, too," she admitted. "I had a crush on you. I remember that night very well."
I was shocked; I had no idea! Then Roberta made a poignant comment that has affected thousands of my decisions, to this day: "Who knows?" she mused. "If either of us had the guts to speak up then, this might have been your ring on my finger now."
It is said that when we come to the end of our life, it is not the things we did that we regret; it is the things we didn’t do. Buddha taught, "There are two reasons great ideas never come to fruition: 1. Not finishing. 2. Not beginning." So it goes for great relationships.
While many people err by diving into relationships too soon, others err by waiting too long to dive – or never diving at all. Such people stand shivering on the shore, feeling too shy or fearful to jump. Others hesitate because they have been hurt and shield their heart. Others are too picky. Still others feel safer holding a crush at a distance, taking refuge in fantasy rather than risking in reality. Yet, all do not recognize that the aliveness they would gain by asking for what they want far exceeds the safety they perceive in hiding.
I asked a seminar audience, "What would you do if you were not afraid?" A woman raised her hand and declared, "I would ask a certain man to go to a party with me this weekend." In a moment of boldness, I offered the woman my cell phone and asked her if she would be willing to phone him on the spot. Being a good sport, she agreed and stepped outside to make the call. Ten minutes later she returned with an enormous smile. "I have a date!" she proclaimed to the tune of wild applause.
When I returned to the same city a year later, I asked a friend of the woman if she had seen her recently. "I certainly have," her friend reported. "I went to her wedding on New Year’s Day…she married the fellow she phoned at your seminar."
You may be closer than you know to having the relationship your heart desires. You might be but one phone call away. While you may believe that your mate is far down the road, your key step may simply be a leap of faith. You may not need to: lose 10 pounds; get over your childhood sexual abuse trauma; come to terms with your ex-; get financially stable; get rid of your current lover; move to Sedona; or…or…or…. Life has not prescribed such pre-requisites – you have. Just as you have made them up, you can step beyond them. Fear has many reasons not to love; love has one reason not to fear: It alone is real.
The path to your dreams is not paved with self-protection; it is paved with trust and a sense of adventure. That road widens with your willingness to step forth even if visibility is less than full. You don’t need to see the whole staircase – just the next step. Leaps of faith are rewarded far more often than building survival bunkers. Hesitation pales in the face of resolution. Look before you leap – but then leap. You may land in a place far richer than where you stood.