Between my junior and senior year of high school, some buddies and I went on a canoe trip in Canada. Our outfitter and guide instructed us on how to lift, carry, launch, paddle, and otherwise take care of our only means of transportation in and out of the lake-dappled wilderness. His first commandment was never, ever get into our canoes unless they were floating freely in the lakes. That meant walking into the water, which also meant getting our wet feet. With a deferent nod to his instruction, I attempted my first launch without getting my feet wet. It didn’t work. Every morning thereafter I marched right into the water, resigned to the fact that I’d have pale, wrinkly, soggy feet for the duration of the trip. It was an unforgettable adventure… one I never could have had without getting my feet wet.
The idiom “get your feet wet” means to have a mild or modest introduction to a new experience, especially to something that involves taking a risk. It’s such an apt image for that moment when we’ve gone from indecision to decision. We’re no longer standing on the shore thinking about soaking our feet in the cool, refreshing water of the lake. We’re no longer just testing the water with our big toe. We’ve stepped, perhaps even jumped, into the lake. We’ve gotten our feet wet.
What important decision are you facing? What are you wishing to experience for the first time? Do you feel like you are standing on the shoreline of that decision or experience, hesitant to take the plunge? Counselors and coaches encourage us to break bigger, riskier decisions into smaller, manageable steps. So it’s OK to shuffle across the pebbles as we make our way to the water’s edge. Just as long as we keep moving step-by-step toward achieving our goals… toward “getting our feet wet” with the things that matter most in our lives.
One of my favorite C.S. Lewis quotes is from The Four Loves: “We have been like bathers who want to keep their feet – or one foot – or one toe – on the bottom, when to lose their foothold would be to surrender themselves to a glorious tumble in the surf.”
Oh that we might lose our footholds for the sake of those glorious tumbles!