“Don’t even think about it. Just jump” said the five year old boy from the safety of the ground.
Following my visit to Wellington last week this moment has stuck with me.
After a day of Wellington’s characteristic rain, the skies at the Waterfront began to clear. I made my way towards the water to explore and I stumbled upon a potential diver at the diving board.
I had been told earlier that day that Wellington’s residents and visitors used to challenge themselves and each other to jump into the harbour’s water from the roof of a building on the front.
Wellington Council’s response was not to knock down the building or put barbed wire up. They built a diving board beside the building so that challengers could use it to safely dive into an especially cordoned off area, free from stingrays and seals.
It’s hard to be a rebel in Wellington.
The potential diver was a boy aged around 14. He stood at the top or the board surveying the challenge.
I joined the gathering crowd of around 30 and stared up at the boy: left arm by his side, right arm across his body, right hand clutching his left elbow. Would he jump?
People came and people left as the boy continued to contemplate his challenge.
A member of the departing crowd was a blonde child who must have been no more than 5. He yelled his parting words of encouragement: “don’t even think about it. Just jump.”
Clearly this little boy was just repeating what others had been shouting from the crowd, but it really struck me. He had voiced the simplistic, child-like words of the spectator. The person protected by the hypothetical. The person who could happily use the words “you should just…”.
But the boy on the board had thought about it. What now? How can you return to a state of “just do it” when you have thought and over-thought about it.
I’m finding my dreamy plans of making music and performing are a lot more difficult than the hypothetical… just do it.
In my idealised plan for this trip, I didn’t properly account for the restlessness of packing up my rucksack on a daily basis, the tiredness caused by bus journeys and constantly being with and around other humans.
Two weeks in, then, I have decided to re-route my trip. Instead of getting the bus all the way to Auckland and stopping, again, at all the places I stopped at on my way here, I will stay in Dunedin and Queenstown for longer and fly to Auckland from Queenstown.
I hope that resting in those place will give me space to reverse the overthinking. Perhaps I will make my music, explore the sounds I’ve been collecting. Maybe, if I’m feeling ready to really jump, I could try to find a small gig?
The boy on the board didn’t jump from the high board. He backed away down the steps before launching himself off the lower board. Those invested in his story clapped and cheered and then got on with their days, as people do.
Things to think (or not think) about.
Note: I didn’t take the first photo above. This is not the boy.