*I’d like to preface this by saying I’ve been working on this post for days with hesitancy of posting. I don’t want to talk too much about someone who’d rather not be discussed, but the individual mentioned below did have a life-changing impact on me and I feel it important to expound on that fact. Life is about transformation and experimentation; because of T, I changed my viewpoint and started living.
If you’re really lucky, every so often you come into contact with someone who makes you question the way that you live your life; I don’t mean question in terms of if you’re living your life “right”. It’s more along the lines of stepping back and reviewing how you perceive your existence and how you approach the new and different things: the ideas outside of the box that you live in.
I was lucky enough to stumble upon a person who had this effect on me a little over a year ago and I have tried to live my life differently ever since. This particular person, I firmly believe was put in my path for the very reason of self-analysis and transformation. He was a guy, about 30 years old who seemed to live his life with no fear of the unknown; he didn’t question the “what ifs” of any situation. He simply experienced each new venture with enthusiasm. We spoke for hours upon hours on the phone and the first thing I recall being blaringly evident was the fact that joy for living life emanated from him. He traveled because he wanted to and had a passion for experiencing and wandering. He chased tornadoes because he wanted to and he could. He sky dived because he wanted to and he enjoyed it (and, because I believe he was an adrenaline junky).
The way T lived his life was awe-inspiring to me. It made me reflect on the way I approached life and realize that my fears had kept me from trying and experiencing new and different things. In short, this realization bummed me out. So, in typical Lex fashion, I began to think and figure out why I approached new and different with such trepidation and steered clear of attempting anything new.
It’s my opinion (and it could very well be wrong) that my “uptightness” started when I was a kid. I’ve been told I was a rather serious child. I’m the oldest of four kids and have been told repeatedly that I took over as “little mommy” to my younger sisters when I was very young. I don’t know why I did this; I just did. I guess I felt an intense sense of responsibility at a very early age. While feeling a sense of responsibility is a good thing (after all, it was my serious nature and sense of responsibility that kept me out of trouble for the most part as a teenager), taking yourself and life too seriously can only prohibit you from a range of experiences.
I’ll now tell a short anecdote that very well illustrates how I used to be:
I went hiking with a friend (Amber) and her three young children about a year ago. We got to a point in the trail where we had to cross a river; the kids bounded rock to rock and hit the dirt on the water’s opposite bank. Amber stepped, hopped and jumped to the other side. I looked at her from the other side of the river and said, “How do I do this?” She laughed, pleading with me to just step from rock to fallen tree to rock and onto the bank. “I’ll fall, I know I’ll fall….are you sure this is safe? That sounds dangerous,” I remember saying. My new catch phrase became “That’s Dangerous” that very day.
Upon further analysis, I have found that I lived life so safely, to avoid being hurt or to avoid the unknown that subconsciously, I viewed living life as “dangerous”. Anything that I didn’t know how to do or perhaps wasn’t comfortable doing, I considered “dangerous” or off-limits. Up until a year ago, I never did anything outside of my comfort zone. Once I realized that I was probably missing out on really fun things that I was either A) too afraid to do or 2) had unjustifiably decided I wouldn’t enjoy. (Hiking fell into category 2). I decided my view simply had to change. I didn’t want to be the girl on the other side of the river, afraid to leap and see what happens. Even if I were to fall, so what? Would that be the end of the world? Would I break? No. Hell no.
I tried expressing some gratitude to T at one point; I wanted to convey that because of his completely different attitude and outlook, I realized a flaw and was working on fixing it. He brushed it off, saying something along the lines of “get out of here.” He didn’t believe that he’d have in impact like that (but again, I am adamant that he did).
T and I are no longer in touch as we used to be, but he has forever left a definitive imprint. Once I realized the things that I was probably missing out on due to my fear of the unknown, I started seeking out new adventures and interests. I no longer freeze at the prospect of new things. The spring and summer that I was acquainted with him, I started actively seeking out new and different things that I hadn’t done. I started hiking and hiking and me began a fast and furious love affair. I went river tubing and despite almost drowning, I really enjoyed it. I went to my first beer festival where I was introduced to the joys of hard apple and pear cider. I went camping for the first time and found that I really, really hate peeing outside. I was so proud of myself for doing and trying new things that for some reason in my mind, I’d decided I didn’t want to try or do. I felt more free and happier than I had felt in a long time.
Now, I firmly believe that I will never jump out of a plane or chase a tornado, or even get on a roller coaster (I can’t explain my fear of this but it includes two things that I am deathly afraid of: height and speed. Pair height and speed with moving mechanical parts and all I see is disaster. Some people say this is irrational. My response to this is: I’ll throw up on you if you make me do it.) For the most part, I actively try not to box myself in; I actively try not to knock something until I’ve tried it.
Since my fortuitous happenstance meeting, I’ve started to create a list of things that I want to do before I can’t (meaning before I get too old to fully enjoy them, or before I die). I’d like to learn how to mountain climb. I want to travel, specifically out west. I want to hike in Sedona. I want to hike Pike’s Peake. I want to go to a rodeo in Texas. I’d like to try white water rafting and kayaking. I’d like to attend SXSW. I’d like to see the Amalfi Coast with my own eyes, not just in photos. I’d like to walk through and around 13th century Scottish castle. The list goes on and on. I intend to check off at least the majority of the list.
I have found that once you start doing things that are a little foreign to you, you open up to the prospect of more new and different. This then snowballs into a whole list of new and different you’d like to experience. The prospect of something new doesn’t scare me any more. I want to conquer (or at least try to conquer) the things that I never thought I’d be able to do, and actually enjoy the things I didn’t think I’d like. That is after all what life is about, isn’t it? Trying new things and figuring out who you are.