“I knew that if I allowed fear to overtake me, my journey was doomed. Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves, and so I chose to tell myself a different story from the one women are told. I decided I was safe. I was strong. I was brave. Nothing could vanquish me.”― Cheryl Strayed: Wild, From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
Lately, I have been thinking about people who do crazy things. Not crazy like mental hospital crazy, but crazy like out of the ordinary. I recently read the book Wild by Cheryl Strayed, a woman who hiked the Pacific Crest Trail by herself for months in the wilderness. She faced innumerable physical and mental hardships, such as a lack of food, water, shelter, and bodily deterioration. However, the difference between this story and so many "stranded in nature" stories that we read is that she chose this journey. She chose to go out on an adventure that would permanently change her.
This is a great example of what most people would consider a "crazy" endeavor. She wasn't a plane crash victim or a lost camper; she risked her life, sanity, and health to get lost so that she could find herself. Regardless of my Colorado residence, I have no desire to hike and camp by myself for months, but I do relate to something in her story that goes beyond the details of her specific journey.
I believe there are only two types of people in the world: people who take risks and people who wish they had, people who are wild and people who are caged.
For the wild ones
A few weeks ago, I was on the phone with one of my best friends talking about the new phase of life she is in. Like myself and many of my close friends in their young twenties, there's a constant, internal war between doing what is expected and doing what you're called to do. "What do I do," she asked me, "when it comes time to chose between staying here and chasing my dream or going home to live closer to family? What if my dream isn't enough to keep me here?"
We all face this at one time or another. We have been created with specific desires and callings that grow and change throughout our lives. I firmly believe that family and relationships should be everyone's priority, however, I also believe in the type of family and relationships that encourage you to chase your dreams, even if that means more distance between you for a while. Life is too short for comfortable to become a staple word in your vocabulary.
However, I have also learned one constant truth about those who take risks. The ones who make the tough decision to go against the norm, move away, take that job that doesn't pay well, leave the relationship that seems so "perfect", those are the people who will always face more struggles upfront. I can't tell you the amount of times I have gotten on social media and seen pictures of people who graduated college, got a comfortable job, got married, and stayed put. And maybe that was right for them, maybe that was their big adventure - I don't know, and I don't claim to. However, to me, that life looks like a dream because it's exactly the opposite of the risk I took.
Sometimes I want comfortable so badly that it makes my mouth water, but then I open my eyes and realize that that isn't the path I chose, and there's no going back.
For those in the cage
You are the only person who knows if you have taken risks or not. Most of our risks aren't about hiking or skydiving, they are small choices to break out of our comfort zone. And if you have chosen to stay still, I can promise you that, for a while, things will be easy. Just as the risk takers will struggle upfront, those who stay comfortable will enjoy the complacency of going with the flow.
However, if you are taking your easy road, whatever road that may be, there will come a time when you look back and say, "What would have happened if?"
It's so easy to lie to yourself; I know because I've done it. It's easy to make excuses for why the choices you are making are more responsible and understandable than the risk in your heart. And no one can judge this for you - you are the only one who knows what you are being called to do. It's so easy to hide behind your age, your faith, your obligations, and make excuses for why life in the cage is right for you. But it's not, it's not right for any of us.
We each get one life, one choice to be the type of person who stays put or one that runs free. It might hurt more upfront, but I'm going to keep running.
PHILIPPIANS 3:13-14 (NLT)
No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.