Not too long ago I realized how much energy I (we, you) put into avoiding the painful or awkward or difficult in life. It’s been a long haul from the monkey bars and first grade, when we just said Yes! to anything. Have you noticed? If you can remember back to the time when throwing yourself through time and space or learning a new skill was just what you did, you may wonder, as I do, what the hell happened.
My answer today is: Who cares? Who cares what led us to be cautious? That’s not the point. The point is: being careful has not always served us well. It may have helped you survive to read this sentence, but chances are it also helped you miss out on a lot of adventures.
In my 20s I was crazy adventurous, traveling across Europe, exploring the USSR, eating anything that didn’t bite back, sampling local libations, ride-sharing with strangers, and getting into other hijinx I’m not ready to commit to print just yet.
Then I got married, had kids, started thinking of mortality–which, given my early history, was understandable. Maybe I even got a little neurotic at times, but I am committed to sticking around for my kids and securing their longevity. So Safety Sandy became my nickname. Sexy, I know.
But still: You and I both know that no matter how much energy we put into holding pain and anguish at bay (see paragraph 1), it’s gonna show up anyway. So I’m slowly learning to just live my damn life anyway. On good days, anyway, that’s how I try to operate. Not saying I don’t wake up in the middle of the night and have panic attacks about what COULD have happened while I was speeding down I-70 today, but I try. And lately it has become easier.
Also, I have learned to not give a f*(# about b.s. stuff that I used to actually care about. So much crap I wasted energy on! No more. That helps big time.
So far, the universe has rewarded me for leaping.
Leap one: Decided to limit my perfectionism to writing only. Much relief, much better use of that instinct. Check.
Leap two: Attended the 2015 AWP conference (big national writer-palooza) in Minneapolis in April. I have a weird affection for the town and knew the conference would be good soul food. I was inspired, came home, started submitting like crazy, and my logjam of inertia is slowly busting up. Two poems published, a manuscript in review, and more out there waiting. Check.
Leap 2: I reconnected with an old grad school buddy, who suggested we submit a proposal for a panel at next year’s AWP. Check.
Leap 3: I applied for the Denver Writing Project, a three-week intensive writing/teaching program, and got accepted. Check.
It’s the best. Thing. Ever.
I’m learning from some of the best, most experienced, gracious, inspirational, and intelligent people in my field. I can’t believe I’m so lucky. And it’s only Day Two!
So my message to you is to re-learn how to say YES. Be bold. Try something new or something you’ve always wanted to do. Take a risk, for heaven’s sake, and get yourself out there. Good things are waiting for you!