I Double Dare You

Cliff jumping in Cyprus

Cliff jumping in Cyprus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Feeling introspective.  Probably not a good idea, but it’s where I am tonight.

I am not brave.  I’ve chosen the path of least resistance more frequently than the road less traveled.  I like people who are brave.  I like to hear about their lives, see the photos, read the stories.

My stomach hurts just thinking about it.  Risk taking is just not my thing.  I have never gone cliff diving, and never will.  I’ve never gone to live in another country, I don’t see that happening either.  Some people live big lives, I’m not one of them.  It’s true that some of those with big lives were raised in a certain way, maybe they had financial backing, or those around them assumed they would live those big lives.  But not everyone.  Some have an inner something that prompts them to take a leap with open eyes, even as their hearts are pounding.

I think those patterns have to be set when you’re young, and responsibilities are only to yourself.  Yes, yes, we always have a responsibility to others in our lives, our community, our society.  But responsibilities at 25 are different than 35, 45, or 55.

Venn Diagram for T

Venn Diagram for T (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Not in a woe is me, life is over with middle age kind of way. There is a point where bravery and selfishness overlap.  They have to.  No one would ever take a chance if they were focused solely on how the chance might harm others.

Do I live through my characters?  Absolutely.  When I think about it, though, my characters aren’t about big lives either.  No espionage, serial killers, or royalty.  I love the everyman.  I love exploring what goes into the choices we make in the everyday; our relationships, and the subsequent, long range repercussions.  I like to follow the path of each character, trying to establish what the question really is, forget about the answers.

So if our lives are one long game of truth or dare, I choose truth.  Through a substantial veil of fiction.  To make it more interesting, or more palatable?  Maybe the choice isn’t truth at all, but fear.

If life had been different, and we weren’t strangling on a budget that makes the basics of getting through each day a freakin minefield, I like to think I’d be more brave.  Then again, if I’d taken more risks, the road less traveled when I was younger, maybe this wouldn’t be our every day.

What about you, truth or dare?

(For Child Welfare Exhibit 1912-13.) Shooting ...

(For Child Welfare Exhibit 1912-13.) Shooting craps, Providence, R.I. Location: Providence, Rhode Island. (LOC) (Photo credit: The Library of Congress)

 

24 comments

  1. I was much more adventurous when I was younger. I did actually cliff dive. The first dive is the scariest. It was only a 30ft dive but my heart was pounding. I always thought I would sky dive. When the chance did come up, I chickened out. I think with age, came sanity. I have more responsibilities now. I do want to swim with whale sharks. That will happen when we head to bora bora. 😀 For Now, I will live through your characters. I love to read.

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  2. This one made me think! I really don’t know how to answer.
    In a lot of ways I have to play things safe, due to all the responsibilities in life. Even conversations with dh involving risk in things like retirement accounts can be nerve wracking! What if, ya know? In the world of medical decisions we’ve had to be safe.responsible.make a lot of “conventional” and “sensible” life choices dictated by the circumstances of our lives in this area. Would our course have been radically different without these circumstances? Hard to say.

    Within the medical realm though, we’ve had to start branching out. Things a bit less proven, or maybe even known to be a bit less safe, therefore constantly assessing risk vs benefit. Things that well- if they go wrong- can really, REALLY go wrong. Does that make me brave (even if only for my child’s sake) or does that simply make me desperate?

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  3. I often think about how small my world is- and I’m OK with that because that goes along with what I have always been…a simple man. Wife is much more outgoing than i, but still simple in the grand scheme. Daughter is already far more the world traveler and can see what she wants and has big dreams in spite of her parents simple roots. This makes me smile 🙂

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  4. Nothing is more confidence crippling or bravery draining than being stuck for cash, every day is brave and full of mental contortions just to survive. Having lived that life and one with more cash, it does boost you up. Just knowing if push comes to shove you can flash a visa card in a beam me up Scotty manner. I crave adventure, have romany blood and hear the call of the road most days. It’s a well planned call though with nice hotels or at least camp sites with flushing loos 🙂

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  5. I think we all look back and believe we were braver in our youth. We didn’t *feel* brave then, but we had to keep on keeping on, so we did.

    In our reruns we look brave when we see from here who we were and what we did. We wonder how we had the guts to think we could do so many things we really didn’t think about at all – back then.

    We knew SO little of what could boomerang that we blundered along in ways that only look brave to us NOW. The risks were not the same. For me, the only real risk in my young life was pissing off my father.

    He moved me every year, so I knew I had to hit hard and move in fast if I didn’t want to eat alone. I was always one school behind cool – clueless, even to say what might be wrong with whatever I said, or did, or WORE in each new Wonderland. I learned young how to shuck and jive.

    It always worked.

    The Florida clothes mightily offended conservative beltway navy blue souls in Bass Weejuns. (Thank God my mother understood the saddle shoes that my father swore were “perfectly fine” most certainly weren’t.)

    My favorite dress – and I am not making this up – was orange with huge purple polka dots – like targets. I LOVED that dress.

    I “bravely” donned it on the first day of junior high because I had no IDEA what *this* cool school uniform might be, so I went for broke. It was, as I suspected even as I pulled it out of the closet, not a hit.

    It was also the last day I ever wore that dress.

    I grinned at the cool girls and made them scream with, “What can I say? My mother dresses me funny.” You don’t have to be much of a wit to amuse teenaged girls, as long as you are self-depricating.

    Somehow, I was always popular. (And isn’t THAT an achievement to be proud of?!) My sainted mother stitched Villager and LadyBug knockoffs as if she were chained inside a sweatshop.

    I wrote a poem about that particular transition that I believe, even today, was actually good. Somewhere in my files I have it still. No one except a therapist, much later, has ever seen it — never show your poetry to your therapist. Those guys can suck the life out of a metaphor.

    Fitting in has never been my style, actually, but I was addicted to survival in those days. I understood blood sport.

    I hated those clothes. God bless her heart – she hated them too, but understood the import. My mother colored inside those rigid lines for love of me. I haven’t had an A-line skirt on my body since, and traded the loafers for stillettos the moment I could.

    GOD I loved Manhattan!

    Still in Northern Virginia, I wore a Chanel suit for my High School Homecoming festivities. I thought it was chic, and my mother was a whizbang with a Pfaff, Apparently, chic was not “IN” that particular Homecoming. Who knew there were Villager SUITS?!

    I’m sure there are many who remember me as brave from those days — and from many years of days that followed. I knew how to vamp and play for the laugh to cover so much more than merely being new. I was 38 before I learned of ADD.

    I was fearless – but that’s not the same as brave. NOW I am braver than anyone I know.

    I’d trade it for fearless in a heartbeat!

    xx,
    mgh

    Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CMC, SCAC, MCC
    – ADD Coaching Field co-founder –
    (ADDandSoMuchMore and ADDerWorld – dot com!)
    “It takes a village to transform a world!”

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    1. Oh Madelyn, your story makes me laugh while it breaks my heart. Yes, I remember those days–and that’s without the added difficulties of navigating a new culture every year. Orange with purple polka dots? I love it, and love imagining you figuring out what it would take.

      I think you’re right, back then it was more a question of fearlessness than intended bravery, a different thing. Still, I wouldn’t mind a bit of the old fearlessness right now.

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      1. While I’m not a fan of the musical with the muppets, my late friend Kate WAS, so I’ve heard the score many times. While I’m also not even particularly crazy about the score, I LOVE the title of one of the more light-hearted numbers, “It Sucks to be Me”

        That about says it for ALL of us, huh? We all feel that way when the going gets tough — and the going seems to get tougher every day.

        Thank God for the TED talks – the thinking man’s optimism cheerleaders. I swear that’s what gets me through MANY of my days – but really not kidding!
        xx,
        mgh

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