“To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily. Not to dare is to lose oneself.” Soren Kierkegaard
My brother emailed me this quote yesterday. He knew that I would love it. I’ve dared quite a few things in my lifetime, some of them turned out to be wonderful, some, mini-disasters, but I’ve learned more about myself from all of them, and as I think back on the difference, what I know is this: when I acted from a positive longing for more Life, when the action (or decision) felt like it was coming from a deeper part of me, even if the action itself seemed quite risky, like skydiving or doing a firewalk, the end result was positive. And when I was doing something to prove a point, or show someone, or I was in a low, disempowered state, the results were not so good.
Years ago, I was dating a man who I knew in my heart wasn’t right for me. But I wanted him to be so bad! One of his complaints about me was that I was too needy and too dependent, so one day, I took a trip to the White Mountains by myself to hike. I remember my motivation: to prove to him that I was independent and that I didn’t need him (hoping that this would make him want me). I was uneasy the whole time.
About a mile into my hike, two men came up the trail behind me and I could feel that they were trouble. I ran ahead and hid in the woods about 50 feet from the trail. I thought that my heart would explode inside my chest, I was so scarred. They milled around the area (where I entered the woods) until some hikers came up behind them, and when I saw these hikers, I almost flew out of the woods, surprising everyone, and asked if I could join them. The two men did not continue their hike but turned around and went back down the trail.
This isn’t about making rules like, “You should never hike alone.” It is not the activity itself, it’s how we are feeling about it in the moment, that guides us to good or bad decisions. I’ve learned that my inner voice always guides me to make those right decisions and if I am in doubt, I need only look at my motivation, and check in with how I am feeling.
Don’t do anything to try to impress anyone. It doesn’t work. Don’t do anything to prove to others, or to show others, that you are not afraid, or that you are really something special. It doesn’t work.
Make decisions about your life from your heart, and you can not go wrong.