A few years ago, through the phenom of Facebook, numerous high school classmates re-entered my life. I attended Willingboro High School in the South Jersey suburb of Willingboro which was one of the original Levittown communities (the others are in New York and Pennsylvania). I have enjoyed catching up with these folks, most of whom I haven’t seen since our graduation in 1977. Some stayed in the area, others scattered to the winds. Back then, I had friends from all social strata, every conceivable group and still, at times felt like an outsider, an observer of the play that was unfolding on stage. I wondered whether those who seemed confident, really were, or like me, had sometimes nagging inner critic monkey mind chatter going on in their brains. Only they can answer that now, since we are all in our early 50’s and hopefully have done an inventory, or at least an overview of our lives. I sure have. Some have passed, sadly and leave a legacy among family and friends. Others have gone on to create lives of which they can justifiably be proud. We are planning our 35th reunion for this summer and I am eager to discover the answer.
One such is my friend Dan Poor. Danny, as we called him then, was among the group that in that era, would have been called ‘jocks’, although I see him as a well rounded athlete. A gymnast, I marveled at how he would defy gravity, since I much preferred to have my feet on the ground….or in the water, since at that time in my life, I was a competitive swimmer (freestyle and butterfly were my favorite strokes…I still have the shoulders to show for it:)
In his career since then, he became a high diver at Sea World, a flaming hoop jumping dare-devil stunt performer in Cirque Du Chimelong in China, wearing glittery, glowing vividly colored face paint, cliff diving in Acapulco and these days, he provides fitness training and sweeps ladies off their feet doing swing dance. He is also, one of the most open hearted people I know, a fun dad and grandpa, moving to Maine to companion his 90 something year old mama. Dan is doing what I wish I had the luxury of doing with my mom before she passed, as he is spending a great deal of time with the woman who raised him well.
A thread on his Facebook page spoke about his training for the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series next year. I watched the video of others defying gravity, overcoming what might be heart thumping fear, to be in ‘the zone’, soaring sans wings, at a gazillion miles per hour (how fast is it really?) His friends were cheering him on (me included) and spoke about getting Team Dan t-shirts in support. I had mentioned visualizing the twists and turns, the outcome (he already knew this, I’m sure) and when the time came, his body would already be in go-mode since he had rehearsed it in his mind so many times. It’s true for all of us, athlete, or not, that if we SEE it, and FEEL it, we can BE it. He responded in a way that indicated he was reminding himself to take it slowly and easily. I added that there have been times when I have over-done it in an effort to prove that I still can. His response: ” Hopefully the obvious decline in physicality is more than made up for in wisdom!! Not so sure that doing multiple spinning and twisting dives from 90′ is particularly wise at this age, but my heart’s in the right place, and it sure is exciting! Ultimately I just don’t want to look back and say, “If I’d only…..”
And I answered: “Now the question is, does wisdom dictate that we do more of that daring, gravity (emotionally and not just physically) defying stuff or less? I do all I can, to refrain from saying those things too…can’t say I would do some of the things I did in my younger years (like 10 day Outward Bound Course at 22 out of Dartmouth…40 below at night, coming home with frostbite on both hands, a broken pinkie, sprained ankle, bronchitis and bruises on my hips from carrying a 50 pound pack around for the duration:) Had a blast though.”
Now I gaze back at my time line, and consider those things I did in the previous few decades and smile with delight that this 53 year old body can still do some things that it did in my 20’s with greater grace and ease, since I am more comfortable in my own skin. Although I am far more comfortable with my toesies on terra firma than in the air, like my friend can do with such dazzling effect, I take a whole lot of emotional flights of fancy, willingly in free-fall~ YAHHHHHOOOOO! <3