A Year for Living “Dangerously”
The purpose of fear is to keep us out of harm’s way, to
warn us of danger. In fact, our body actually has its own way to
communicate to us when we have something to fear—the hair
on the back of our neck stands on its end, our breathing gets constricted,
or we may get butterflies in our stomach. “Be careful. Pay
attention,” our bodies are telling us. In this way, fear
is our friend—if the target of our fear is real.
For too many of us, however, our perception of what
presents a danger has gone far beyond what will actually
cause us harm, and has entered into the realm
of anything that we believe will pose a risk to our status quo—the way
we see ourselves and our world. Go back to school? Not at my age. Learn to
dance? Nah, I have two left feet. Bring home a puppy? Do you know how messy
puppies are? Translation: I don’t want to look foolish. I don’t
want to take a risk. I don’t want anything to interrupt my world. Same
old, same old.
The irony is, the very things we pull back from are
often the very things we’d
love to have, or do, or be. Take a moment and think about this: what if
housed within your greatest fears, lay the possibility
of your greatest gifts?
I remember when Veronica, a friend and spiritual director,
first said this to me—I think I looked at her like she had two heads. I had just agreed
to write a column for Conceive, a national magazine, and every ounce of insecurity
was bleeding through. Sure, I had always wanted to write, and had written for
local, small publications, but never for anything like this. The idea of writing
for something of this magnitude, with hundreds of thousands of people reading
what I had to say, well, just the thought of it made me feel like I was paddling
as fast as I could in deep water, struggling to stay afloat. Not the most pleasant
of feelings, and definitely a sign I shouldn’t be doing this, right?
Ah, not exactly, Veronica told me. This, she said,
is what new life feels like, what creativity feels like.
It’s like jumping into the void, literally
into the unknown, so that what previously didn’t exist, will
now be able to take form.
That was a light bulb moment for me. Prior to this,
whenever I approached something and that internal alarm
went off, I would doggedly grit my
teeth and plow ahead,
secretly wrestling with the thought that I was in over my head. But
now, I realized, a deep desire to try something new is virtually
by some level of trepidation. Our heart’s desire and fear are
linked together, at their core.
So here we are, on the threshold of a new year. What
do you want to do? Stay comfortably stuck or take a risk?
It’s up to you, but I will say this:
on the other side of whatever you fear, something wonderful could
And you know, there’s nothing wrong with starting
small. Every time we meet our fear, or take a risk, even
in small ways, we build the muscles necessary
to move on to bigger things.
Like last week, when my writing partner, Linda, gave
me a call.
“What do you think of roller coasters?” she asked me.
“Hate ‘em,” I told her.
“Me too.” Then without missing a beat, she added, “Want to
go to Universal?”
I took a deep breath. “Sure.”
Why not live a little dangerously?
Until next time…