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 saw Roberta a few more times during the summer, but felt tongue-tied. She was such a babe and I was such a dweeb, I concluded.
Three years later I saw Roberta at a party. She was still 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."
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 or never diving in 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.
You may be closer than you know to having the relationship your heart desires. You might be but one phone call away. 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 . . . Life has not prescribed such prerequisites--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. Look before you leap--but then leap. You may land in a place far richer than where you stood.
ALAN COHEN is author of The Dragon Doesn't Live Here Anymore and Why Your Life Sucks and What You can do About It. For infor or to receive Alan's daily inspirational quote and monthly newsletter, visit www.alancohen.com, email email@example.com, or 1-800-568-3079.