I’m five. We been in the US a couple months. Finally moved into our own apartment. I start kindergarten. My parents are students at Penn State, State College. I understand English. We speak only Russian at home.
First day back from kindergarten. Home alone. Parents won’t be back for three hours. I go out. Explore.
There is a swimming pool nearby. I get my swimming suit. Jump into the deep end. I can’t swim.
I don’t drown. I don’t require rescue. No one notices me flailing around and I eventually stop gulping water. Stay afloat. Dive. How long will I be able to hold my breath at the bottom? I check my not water proof Mickey Mouse watch.
Sums up my approach to life and business. Jump into the deep end of the pool or the swift part of the river two feet first if it ‘feels’ right. Ignore fear. Conquer terror. Flail around, get a hang of it. Test capacity. Master situation. Sinking is not an option. Veni. Vidi. Vici!
I’m 26. Its Sunday. Lagos. Family day at the beach. I’m watching my boys splash around in the surf a little bit ahead of me. I see the tide sweeping my first son away. He’s six. He’s gulping water. I know I can’t reach him in time. I freeze. An older kid in front of him stops him. Brings him to me.
We all start swimming lessons the next day. Life is like an ocean. E strong pass you. Its stronger than you. E big pass you. Its bigger than you. And swimming lessons help avert pain, disaster and tragedy.
I’m still a risk taker but I’ve gotten damn good at risk management. No need to throw the baby out with the bath water. There is no shortage of risk in Nigeria. Makes a woman feel quite vulnerable sometimes but here we are.
Veni. Vidi. Vici!
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