Like that time I left our 18 month daughter with my in-laws and climbed a 14’er named Mt. Harvard as sponsor on a youth trip. Or maybe that time at 44, after a few piano lessons, I found myself lined up with 9 year olds on folding chairs, quaking with terror as I waited my turn in a Christmas recital.
“The world IS what I’m doing, self.”
Sometimes memories float through my brain unexpected and I crack up at myself. I’ve enjoyed pottery classes, an online iPhone photography course and even a semester of “dance” with other middle-aged moms.
You see, I am a sucker for new experiences. Same ol’, same ol’ is the same as death. I get a rush out of novelty. This world is packed too tight with wonderful people who teach and incredible places to see, to just be satisfied with the safe and known.
Fresh experiences are the birthplace of the next good story. No wonder I love them.
I’m the one to climb cliffs at the lake and join gray-haired quilters for a stitch or two and try any line dance offered. You’ll find me visiting the newly opened restaurant and waiting in line for opening night movies.
To me any risk involved in a new experience is worth it. You get lost? Turn around. Who cares that sushi isn’t your favorite or the 2 hour storyline was a dud or you discover the truth that old fingers don’t work like you’d hoped. The chance that you might stumble on something truly delightful, delicious or entertaining is worth every bit of risk to me. Great stories await every opportunity seized.
Just as fear feeds fear, bravery is contagious. When I climbed a rock wall, my kids followed more readily. When my friend started a blog, it seemed possible for me too.
Without deciding to try something new I wouldn’t have Warrior Dash stories to share with my son or the memories of a day on the set of Joplin’s Extreme Home Makeover with my husband.
So what’s a girl like me going to do when the chance to take an online writing course by Allison Vesterfelt comes along? Seize it, that’s what! I’ll admit, this new experience has felt riskier than most. Because honestly I’m really enjoying the writing process and am halfway afraid I’ll discover my writing sounds like my piano playing or looks like my dancing. And neither of those are pretty.
But in the end I decided it was worth whatever risky vulnerability it required to learn and grow as a writer. And because others in this class are risking too, it makes us all feel braver than before.
One of our first assignments was to write a poem entitled “I Am From…”. Interesting because I’ve thought more and more recently of stories from the place I’m from. Memories have been popping like popcorn in my consciousness of those first 18 years I lived in New Mexico’s southeast corner.
Don’t be afraid to try something new. Who cares about the outcome. Being brave in the trying may be the best story of all.
I Am From….
I’m from the Land of (dis)Enchantment
A corner of forgotten place where tumbleweeds collect like legos
I’m from a desert of pump jack villages with an oasis called city pool
Surrounded by brown bodies painted by genetics and the sun
I’m from Allsups fried burritos and Lite Brite pictures on New Years Eve
Watching Solid Gold dancers but singing Great Hymns of the Church
I’m from thin metal TV trays and orange sherbert stirred up in a bowl
Captivated by the adventurous glamour of Love Boat and Fantasy Island
I’m from “Dry it up and “You’ll live” and from “There was a little birdie…”
Striving hard to keep my chin up and live up to every expectation but my own
I’m from Little House on the Prairie delivered in a yellow box set
Escape coming early in stories from places beyond the room of bright blue carpet
I’m from four-part harmony and Journey on a Walkman
Logging miles at sea on the church bus, both a calling and embarrassment
I’m from horny toads and stickers, chased wild through dusty playgrounds
Cruising night after night up-town past the Dairy Bar and locker plant
I’m from Copacabana crooned on a curling iron and Just As I Am sung a capella
Cuddled next to Grandma Mary and her cherry Lifesavers hiding purse
I’m from a brown paneled station wagon that grew into a conversion van
Driving summers toward wheat harvests and cousins and tornadoes
I’m from ugly beautiful years of dust storms and stargazing
Where wonder was birthed and the hunger for new and more began