To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily. Not to dare is to lose oneself.Soren Kierkegaard
The day I tip-toed, then crawled across a layer of snow and ice to kneel near an unprotected edge of the Grand Canyon for a photo op, my birthday the day before had marked my 57th year. I was the oldest one in the tour group, and the only one who dared to pose for a picture that close to the edge where there wasn’t a guard rail to prevent one from losing their footing and plunging into the canyon.
I can still feel the adrenaline pumping through my veins at doing something so potentially dangerous. Our guide had warned us on the hour’s ride from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon of the unpredictably sudden – and strong – gusts of wind that tended to blow through the canyon; and to just wave goodbye to our cellphones if one of those winds snatched it out of our hands while we were having selfie fun. And while our tour guide didn’t talk about people who have died either mysteriously or specifically (read about both in this story) while visiting the Grand Canyon, I knew I needed to be careful; but I also needed to do it.
Why? Because it scared me; excited me; and felt like a metaphor for my whole life. I didn’t just boldly walk across that ice and snow toward the edge in a self-destructive haze for a few minutes glory just to say, “I did it!” I baby-stepped my way with the utmost respect for what could happen, even with all my caution.
This act of daring was my version of climbing Mt. Everest to reach the summit; swimming with sharks; hiking in bear country; or living with grizzly bears in Katmai National Park in Alaska as Timothy Treadwell did, before two grizzlies attacked and ate Treadwell and his girlfriend. My little daring adventure in no way compares to the daily resolve Timothy had to muster in dealing with those powerful bears or that Steve Irwin had to have in dealing with the dangerous animals he encountered but I believe I understand the compelling need to push past your fears and apprehensions and follow your passions.
I’ve had my own moments – on a much less dangerous scale than posing at the edge of a canyon – in pursuing my passion to write.
In the mid-1990’s I strolled into the editorial offices of the local newspaper without a journalism degree but armed with a few Letters to the Editor clippings and a couple of writings I’d done at home, and landed a job as a staff writer for the community section. A few years later – still with no journalism degree, I started working for the Afro American Newspaper. During my time at both newspapers I had to pull my whole body out of my introvert shell (no easy feat) and interview celebrities, business owners, and groups of local citizens to write my articles. My most stressful, sleep-depriving moment was joining a pool of reporters and others to witness a state lethal injection execution and then speaking about it on television and radio. I felt nauseas and faint during the television interview and don’t know what I said, if anything. But still, I stepped up to the challenge.
Do one thing every day that scares you.Eleanor Roosevelt
Will I crawl to the edge of that clearing with no guard rail again when I go back to the Grand Canyon? I seriously doubt it. I conquered that fear and now I have new ones that I need to conquer. (A ride in a hot air balloon!)
Until then, I have a whole list of things that scare me to keep me busy. 🙂