Friday, September 17, 2010

Three life-changing things I've learned in the past 30 days (Part 3)

The third life-changing thing I've learned in the past 30 days is, once again, something I've stolen borrowed adopted from the fantastic Chris Guillebeau of the Art of Non-Conformity:

3. We regret the things we don’t do much more than the things we do.

I made some of those words extra-big and funky-looking because it's a big idea for me. As I've mentioned, I am naturally cautious and not the most adventurous person. I am a compulsive rule-follower. I am a stay-at-homer, a curl-up-and-reader, a call-me-when-you're-done-and-tell-me-how-it-was... er.

The problem is that I am inert.

Last summer, I spent a great day floating down the Snoqualmie River with a guy I was dating at the time. We eventually reached a placid area of the river, where the water flowed gently around a corner and under a bridge. Several people were jumping off the bridge, guys egging girls on and trying to outdo one another by climbing higher and higher up the trusses before jumping.

My then-boyfriend said his friend broke his collarbone jumping off of that bridge. Twice.

Maybe it was the later-discovered leech on my leg that sucked all the sense out of me, but I jumped off the bridge that day. This was, and is, completely out of character for me, but I decided to do something a little crazy for once. After I climbed over the guardrail — which was just one of many indications that this was Not A Good Idea — I spent about 10 minutes staring down at the water before I finally leapt.

I don't regret jumping. I do regret the resulting wedgie.

I decided that day that I didn't want to be the girl sitting on the beach watching all the other kids have fun. I wanted the view from the top, the excitement of breaking the rules. I wanted to see what was on the other side of my hesitation.

Just recently, on the morning of September 11th, I read this on Wise Bread:
"You'll never know what you like if you don't venture out of your bubble and expose yourself to the world. Try different things and keep an eye on yourself. What did you enjoy? Was there something you were skeptical about or something that made you nervous? What made your eyes sparkle or what makes you look back and smile? Explore the world. You'll be surprised at what you discover in the process."
I look back and smile when I think about jumping off of that bridge, and then I think about all of the other opportunities for adventure that I've opted out of in my life. What was holding me back? Fear, of course — of getting hurt, of getting in trouble, of being uncomfortable, of regretting having made the wrong decision. Fear of being afraid. How sad is that?

From the same article, I read:
"Don't live in fear. Don't be like the bird who never risked flapping her wings but longed every minute of her life to touch the sky."
So this weekend, I will touch the sky. I'm going skydiving with my brother. We're going to have a hell of a time.

Skydiving is one of those things that I've always wanted to do someday, but someday just turned into Sunday.

Chris Guillebeau writes, "If you’re on the fence about something, 'go for it and take action' is almost always better advice than 'think about it without doing anything.'" I've done a lot of thinking in my twenty-three years, and I have a lot of doing ahead of me to make up for it.

So I'm doing a 5K run next weekend. I'm doing a trip to the Gorge in October, which will probably be freezing-cold, but I'll love it anyway because I love Jack Johnson. I have a one-way plane ticket to the other side of the country for vacation plans that may or may not work out. If they don't, my friends and I will find something to do wherever we end up.

We regret the things we don’t do much more than the things we do.

I don't want to spend the rest of my life standing still.

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