When I was a kid we used to visit my grandparents who lived in Scottsdale, Arizona. On the way to Scottsdale we would stop in Sedona which if you have never been, should be a “must see” on your places to visit list. Anyway, as a young boy I was always amazed by the beauty of the Red Rocks and their exotic formations. In my mind it always deserved more praise than the Grand Canyon which is still deemed one of the Wonders of the World. In particular there was this natural water slide located about seven miles from Sedona formed on a slippery bed of Oak Creek aptly called “Slide Rock”. Back then it was kind of local knowledge about this little spot tucked in the Coconino National Forest. It was built on a homestead from 1912 and basically you would slide down the mossy rocks into a gathering pool located at the bottom. It was a water slide, before there were water slides as we have today. But, there were no lifeguards and signs that warned “slide at your own risk”. My sister and I and my cousins couldn’t get enough of this place. Now remember this was back in the sixties and the times they do a change.
So fast forward to my adult life and when I have children that were about the same age as I was back then. My wife and I had planned a family trip to Sedona where I would show them the places I went as a young boy. We went to Inspiration Rock, which was inspiring, took a Jeep tour, visited an Indian reservation and of course planned a trip to Slide Rock. I couldn’t wait to share the wonderment and beauty of this national treasure. So first thing in the morning, when they opened we pacedk up the kids and headed over to Slide Rock. Now when I was a kid, I had remembered having to “find” Slide Rock because it was off the main highway. Now years later, there were signs and arrows directing us to the site right along the highway (no more off the beaten path). The family gets out and we head over to the entrance. Unlike the days I had gone when the price of admission was zero, now there was an admission charge. I guess a sign of the times. Disneyland probably cost $10 when they opened 60 years ago too! No problem – we charge in. Now I had two daughters aged 10 and 8 and a son aged 5, who brought his water wings. The plan was for me to go down with the kids to the slide while my wife armed with the video camera (the size of a Buick) would be up top capturing the moments. We were ready to make some lifetime memories. And memories they would become.
My oldest daughter, Jessica, wanted to go down first. She had more body weight than the others and was probably the best swimmer – so she would test the slide. What you really can’t prepare enough for in this adventure is how frigid the water would be. Since it is the run-off water from mountain snow, the temperature is freezing cold. You want out as soon as you get in. Anyhow, Jessica made her way down without too much of a problem, as her body slid down the slide with ease. My second daughter, Ashley, was next up. Unlike Jessica, she was a spindly little girl who could blow away with the wind. When she hit the water, she immediately wailed about the freezing cold water but managed to slide down crying all the way. Then once safe, I held my five year old son, Brian on my lap, water wings and all and we headed down. Well, when Brian felt the water hit him, he wanted out and literally tried climbing on top of my head. I hit the bottomless waiting pool below and tried getting to a point where I could extract Brian from the slide. I tried holding on to the mossy rock, but it was too slippery to grab on to. Meanwhile Brian is literally dragging me underwater as he tried to stay above water. I had no footing and no rock to grab. I was treading water with Brian on my head and finally yelled for help. This is when my wife realized that this was serious. The video which was capturing the event became a jumble of images as she was stricken with fear. Out of nowhere a man who must have witnessed this scene jumped into the pool where I was stranded and helped me get Brian out of the water safely. I managed to slide down the rest of the way and I was shaking from the thought of what might have been. We dried off, trudged back to the car and our one run down the slide was it for the day.
The lesson for me was this: Life changes as time changes. What we remember from our childhood doesn’t mean it will always remain the same as we get older. Sometimes memories are best kept as memories – never to be relived. There are times in business when I believe that what may have worked in the past can work again in future. But invariably conditions change and most importantly, we change. Life is a dynamic process and change is ongoing. Remembering the past is a good reference point- but you always have to move forward. This we can never forget.