Failing Forward

with Daniel Cassadio

Chapter 18 - Gladiator Mode

Chapter EntriesDaniel Casadio2 Comments

In the usual spot. How come I spend so much time in this dirty over populated kitchen?! 

I wrote this blog: 

“Come, Daniel! Front flip! Daniel! Front flip!” screamed (encouraged?) Sebastian. He is one of the boys I work with, at the organisation in the community called Peronnik.

There I was. Once again, swimming in one of the outdoor pools again, enjoying the sun and spending time with the kids. As I waited in line to jump off the board, there was this boy who waited at the top. By my rough guess, he looked like he was from the Middle East, quite chubby and around 12 years old. He was a big boy. A big-time cutie magootie. It was his turn to jump, but he couldn’t do it. When someone would jump off the board, he would run to the board, look down, think seriously hard about all his life problems in the world and then retreat back to safety. It was my turn, I motioned for him to go first but he declined. I couldn’t get out of it anymore, I had to do this front flip. For some it is easy, people even have no issue doing a backflip – I am very envious of these people.

I run, jump and bounce off the 3m diving board. I curve my back as I fly up in the air and my hands swinging in the wind, attempting to pull my body over itself. Attempting. My back now horizontal and my chest facing the sky, but my position stays like this. As I fall.

My back smashes against the water, I let out a scream in the water. I waited underwater until my anger and annoyance at myself had past. I surfaced, forced a smile and made it look like I was okay; regardless how red my back now look.

Not long after this very traumatic experience, I had a break and sat outside and watched everyone play together. It was beautiful and refreshing.

I saw some guy run, jump and bounce off the diving board; soaring into the air and doing a swift, fast yet elegant backflip into the water with minimal splash. A few people let out a few shouts of admiration. To be that guy.

But as the next boy jumps, I look beyond him and see the same Middle Eastern boy still at the top, wanting to jump but just wouldn’t allow himself. He would continue adventuring to the end of the earth, overlook the lava (judging by the fear he in his eyes), that was underneath him and then return back.

This ongoing agony continued for a few more minutes until the life guard strategically waited for a girl to climb up to the diving board, then he put a sign on the ladder; ‘Geschlossen’. Closed.

The girl ran off the diving board not knowing the privilege she just had. Now this cutie magootie chubby bubby boy was all alone. He looked around and saw that none was coming up the ladder and then he saw the sign. I saw the life guard smile at him and give him a thumbs up. The boy again embarked on his adventure to end of the earth and overlooked the overflowing of the hot steamy and unforgiving lava. He was up there for some time, until he went into gladiator mode, clenched his fists, bent his knees, screwed up his face to show he is serious business and … stayed there. The momentum evaporated but now people started to look.

He went into the gladiator mode a few more times but still nothing. There was around a 100 people in and around the swimming pool, and most of them had noticed this wanna-be-adventurer.

His possible friend, older sister or carer climbed up the ladder and walked up to him. His eyes were closed as he was about to jump until she grabbed him and pretended to throw him in. He let out a scream, she laughed and most of us did as well. A bit mean really. But she offered him her hand, and he gripped tightly. After some 20 or 30 seconds, I could see her hand becoming whiter and whiter.

He let go of the bloodless hand, stuck his arms out in the arm as if to symbolise he was one with nature and was a carefree person. People started to make noise, literally everyone started to shout words of encouragement and all different kinds of chants and countdowns were being made. He opened his eyes to the lava, reality came back and the gladiator dropped his sword and took off his armour. He took the pale white hand again. He let out a yell in frustration of himself.

He looked heartbroken, I was heartbroken; we all were. We just wanted this boy to conqueror the lava. He had all our attention, all our hopes and dreams were now determined all this boys’ ability to fall off a 3m diving board. 

The diving board had been closed for 20 minutes and he continued his look of horror and fear as he intensely starred at the lava. The life guard yelled out to not look at the water but look at the tree line in the distance. The boy did just that. He looked, he observed and pondered at the trees. He gently let go of the dead hand and started to breathe again. The atmosphere became really silent, nobody was splashing anybody, nobody was moving. He continued to breathe – I stopped breathing. Then he bent his knees, clenches his fists, screwed up his face for war and let out a yell as he jumped. My boy jumped. He was in the air for so long, my lungs were suffocating by the lack of oxygen.

SPLASH! CRASH! Everyone yelled, cheered, high fived and hugged each other. He surfaced to the water with honestly the absolute biggest smile, I had ever seen in my life. His cheeks were outrageously cheeky and everyone went to him. They patted him on the back, played with his hair, asking for high fives and hugs. I’m pretty sure the boy couldn’t swim well, so he was just trying to get to the edge and find something to hang onto.

He had his boys with him, girls flocked to him. He is living the high life now. What I love about this the most, is that the boys who were with him, the girls who flocked to him were all jumping off the diving board before. They recognised that everyone is different and have completely different fears and obstacles. Who cares how many of his friends jumped before him, he did it. He deserves nothing but to be treated like the courageous hero he is.

He’s a champion. You’re too.

Find some courage and go jump off your diving board.