During my teen years my family bought an outboard motor boat that we used for fishing and leisure boating. Summer after summer from a dock, I watched strangers, family members, and family friends water skied on Lake Cobbosseecontee. Sometimes I observed from the boat while serving as a spotter, the helper who pays attention to the skier while the helmsman focused on steering the boat. One year I decided that I would try to ski before our week at the lake was up. In preparation I asked tons of questions, practiced on dry land, and watched closely as other novices tried. On the designated day, I eased my way into the lake from the side of the boat and paddled my way behind the boat. My cousin Ron served as spotter, my dad as helmsman. Ron tossed the skis into the water; I put them on. He then tossed the tow rope, and I assumed the position: knees tucked, ski tips pointed upward, arms extended. After placing the rope and handle between my skis, I signaled that I was ready. Ron relayed the message to my dad. Here we go! My dad accelerated. I prepared to rise up. The slack in the rope disappeared. The handle of the now taught rope slipped from my hands. 

My dad circled the boat, Ron tossed the rope again, and it was time for take two. Ready! The engine revved as my dad pushed forward on the throttle. Once again, I failed to get up on the skis upon the boat’s acceleration. I held on tightly to the handle, but I never transitioned to a standing position. I sank back into the water with the tow rope firmly in my grasp. There I was, immersed in the lake, face forward, trailing behind the boat. Frustrated and confused, I squeezed tighter onto the rope. Tethered to the boat, I had little control of my body. While firmly holding the rope, I was dragged around Lake Cobbosseecontee by our family boat. Ron repeatedly shouted, “let go of the rope!” Because I was holding on, my family couldn’t get me out of the water. While squeezing the rope, I couldn’t get myself out of the water. I finally released the rope, removed the skis, and let my life jacket kept me afloat. Ron pulled in the rope. My dad circled back – this time to fetch me and the skis. 

Though I have never tried waterskiing ever again, I have repeatedly held onto ropes longer than they have been useful.  Recently I came across a Zen saying that I now use as a mantra:  “Let go or be dragged.”

Posted by Sidra