Do Big Things. It's kind of how I'm wired. It's not necessarily how I've behaved, but it's definitely how I'm wired.
When I was little my imagination was king, and most of my games involved extreme (in my head) activity. I was forever climbing the little hill in front of our house. It was a mountain, and I had to climb it, had to get to the top, had to keep moving in order to live. In my game, my life depended on it. I would take the stakes from our camping tent and jam them into the hill, wrap my jump rope around them, and pull myself up. Someone down below or on the other side needed me; or I had a broken arm or twisted ankle and I had to keep going anyway to save my own soul. My poor best friend Kristi from across the alley spent far too much time freezing her loyal little a** off in the winter when, after climbing the mountain, I'd stick her in the fire pit in our backyard for shelter and I'd take off across the prairie to...get help? Find Ma & Pa? Secure a wagon to take us to safety? And then there were the inside games when someone determined it was too cold, or too dark, or too rainy, or too windy for me to venture out--exactly the conditions my stories called for, by the way--and I would play raft, which goes like this: your bed is a raft. That's it--your bed is a raft, and there are about a million ways the story can go from there: you can save all your stuffed animals from the water, or you can save Kristi from the raging currents of the bedroom floor and bring her safely aboard. Occasionally, we would just float on the abnormally calm water and eat Poptarts and talk.
I was an avid reader as a kid, too, and I was also pretty much embedded in a community of risk adverse people. Given that, and given the fact that I was born in the 1960's, raised in the 1970's, and had no boys in my inner circle (the ticket, back then, to adventure), I had to make do with the stories in my books and the stories in my head to live out my nature. Well, there's only so far you can go with that, especially as you age out of front yard mountain climbs and rafts in your bedroom. What I was left with was a sense that the real world wasn't very safe, risk and failure are terrible matters, and I'm not up to the task of doing big things.
Fast forward many, many years (like, 42 of them), and you find a 54 year old woman who, for the past 5 years, has been working her way back to that kid--or at least to what that kid knew:
1. That the world is messy--some of it unsafe, sure, but so much of it is awesome.
2. That risk and failure are the bomb.
3. I CAN DO HARD THINGS.
But it hasn't come easily. It's not easy. In fact, it continues to increase in difficulty. The more I stretch my limits, I more I get caught between all of my fears and that adventurous kid. God bless that kid--I'm pretty sure she's the one, all of these years, who kept that little fire deep in me from going completely dark. And God bless that woman in her 30's & 40's, too. I've always framed her as weak, but I think she was actually pretty scrappy. She kept her head above water through some pretty epic storms--storms that rivaled the one Kristi survived in the fire pit on a Saturday afternoon in Iowa. Storms that rivaled the raging river of my bedroom floor back in 1977.
So, in that spirit, I am on to a new challenge. I'm going to cover 1,000 miles on foot, running and walking, from June 1st - August 31st. And I don't know exactly why. I have some ideas of how this came to be, but I've learned that what pulls me into these things initially usually falls off along the way, or takes a back seat to something way more significant that emerges that I didn't know I was after. Anyway, it's not important to have all the answers before you start. You're not obligated to explain yourself when someone asks Why? If you need to take the stakes from your tent, jam them into a hill, and pull yourself to the top over and over again, my advice would be: Don't fight it. Just do it. You won't believe what you will gather on the way to the top of that mountain.