The Key to a Life Worth Living

Prepare yourself for a little Country-Time-Lemonade-rustic-summer-nostalgia. 

I grew up next door to a 40-acre sheep farm.  The baa-ing that could be heard through my cracked window on a warm summer night lulled me right off to sleep despite my un-airconditioned humid bedroom. 

On this sheep farm lived my best childhood friend.  She and I would run in the pastures, bottle feed baby lambs, hunt for litters of barn kittens, hide in the hay and whisper secrets while the sun shone through the cracks in the barn walls.  I’m getting all warm and fuzzy just thinking about it.  And it really was all warm and fuzzy . . . until that one day.  The day she showed me the tire swing.

Her dad had rigged a long, I mean looooooooong rope from the peak of the barn.  At the end of which hung a tire.  The tire hung at least 10 feet off the floor.  Or at least it appeared to.  In reality, we could hold on to the bottom knot when up on our tip-toes.  This allowed us to use our entire body weight to arch back and swing the tire and rope up to our friends who waited eagerly at the top of a ginormous stack of hay.  This stack of hay was, quite literally, 15-20 feet in the air.  The idea was to grab onto the tire, back up as far as you could, run to the edge of the hay bales and jump down into the abyss, certain you’ll go crashing into the floor only to be swooped up the arc of the swing to nearly crash into the other side of the barn and then swing back to the hay bales from which you started or let go mid-air and land in a cushy pile of loose hay beneath you.

I was terrified.

It seemed risky.

It seemed like the consequences of failure were too great.

It seemed like I’d puke or slip or black out or do something else embarrassing.

It seemed amazing.

Admittedly, it took me several days and several false starts before I finally took the leap.  And when I did, I missed getting back onto the hay bales and waited for the swing to slow sufficiently so I could gently jump down and land on my feet.  But, before that . . . before that . . . I flew. 

It was exhilarating, freeing, so much fun!  And each time after that, during the years of summers that we played in that barn, it grew easier and easier.

I promised you the key to a life worth living and it isn’t exactly about jumping off of tall piles of hay or living in the countryside.  The key to a life worth living is taking risks.  Jumping into the air.  Having some false starts, being green with nausea, and doing it anyway.

It’s impossible to be in relationship without taking a risk.

It’s impossible to land the vocation of your dreams without taking a risk.

It’s impossible to truly have the life you dream of, the life you can envision, the life you don’t ever think you’ll get, without taking a risk.

Truthfully, risk-taking is rarely something gifted people are good at.  Some gifted folks like to reason it all out and identify the logic of staying safe.  Some gifted folks like to try to just blend in, so they don’t risk letting their amazingness shine and going after what they truly want because it would make them stand out.  Some gifted folks are riddled with anxiety of the what ifs.  Some are crippled by perfectionism and the belief that failure at anything equals failure at everything.

And because it’s terrifying and not something us gifted earthlings are naturally good at, we need to model it for our kids.  If we truly want our children to have the lives they are capable of having, if we truly want them to feel successful and content, then we need to show them its ok to take a few risks.

What are some things you’ve avoided because of fear?  Talk about it with your kids.  And show them how you’re going to take just one step to get closer to this thing you’ve wanted.  Show them that it’s terrifying.  Show them that it’s uncomfortable.  Show them that being uncomfortable is truly the only way you can get the life you’re excited to live.  And show them that you’ll be ok.  Whether you succeed or not, you’ll be ok.  And most likely, you’ll be more than okay.  Most likely, you’ll fly.