Frozen Ponds

When I was a kid, I used to play on frozen ponds. It’s one of those things that I’m now amazed I was allowed to do, which causes me to worry that I’ll be an overbearing parent. The small ponds weren’t really scary, because they’d freeze all the way through quickly. The big ponds were frozen pretty well along the sides, but usually the middle would be questionable. Maybe it could support my weight, maybe it couldn’t. I’d shuffle as far as I dared, and usually go back.

In the hallucinatory delirium that precedes sleep, I found myself last night thinking about my goals as frozen ponds.

Small goals, like small ponds, are easy. The whole thing is frozen solid, so you just slide across. It’s good, but not great. You always know, too, that even if the ice breaks, the pond is so small that it’s not a huge deal.

Big goals are like big ponds, and they’re more complicated. For most of my life I would set big goals, start bravely towards them, and then shuffle back. It feels good to march towards the middle of a frozen pond, and it feels good to start on a big goal. Not only does no one blame when you inevitably turn around, they’re a lot more comfortable if you’d do so. Turning around is easy.

SETT is the first big goal I’ve really stuck to. I’m in the middle of the pond, and I can’t see the place I came from or the place I’m aiming for. I just assume that if I keep going, I’ll probably get to the other side before the ice breaks. I can look down at the ice and think about how sturdy it seems, but the truth is that you never know. I doubt most people who fall into ponds think, “This ice looks really thin and weak… but let’s just find out.”

It’s scary being in the middle of the pond. At the edges you can see other people shuffling around, so you know it’s safe and comfortable. As you get to the middle there are fewer and fewer people. Even those who are also crossing the pond are taking some other route.

Big leaps towards a goal feel like, well, big leaps on ice. I remember the night I switched my blog to SETT. It was like jumping on the ice and hoping I wouldn’t fall through. Same with getting the first few bloggers on it and same with charging people money.

When you’re a kid and you first play on the safe ice in the small ponds or around the edges of big ponds, it’s a lot of fun. As you grow, though, something draws you to the bigger ponds. You start wondering how far you can make it, and you’re compelled to put your feet on the ice and find out. So if the ponds you’re crossing these days aren’t that exciting to you, or if you find yourself turning back, maybe it’s time to take a shot and start walking across.


Photo is a giant snowman my cousins and I made last winter. Passersby said it couldn’t be done.


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