I don’t know if there’s a post that I’ve procrastinated on writing as long as I have with this one. I really don’t know why it’s taken me so long to get these words down. Over the last year and a half, I’ve run through maybe a dozen of fun introductions to start this, so I will try a couple of those throughout this piece. So, as always, fasten your seatbelts (or not) and enjoy this ride.
[Intro 1] I had a recurring dream when I was younger. It involved me riding a rollercoaster up to its peak, just for the ride to come to a complete halt at the top. There’d be no tracks to continue on but there were trees and vines. The only way I could move forward was to get out of the cart and grab onto a vine and swing about like Tarzan or George of the Jungle until I found some ground. Don’t fret, Tarzan, George of the Jungle and the Jungle Book were three of my favorite children’s stories as a child. I promise you this wasn’t some feral spirit oppressing me in my sleep for you “overly-spiritual folk.”
Being a little different than most everyone you’re around is an amazing thing once you’re able to grasp that this was God’s intentional design anyway. He never intended on creating robots following similar simulations but fearfully, wonderfully and uniquely made children who knew themselves and knew their God. (And if I can borrow from my guy Foggieraw, he made me a lil’ “suckerfree” too) I’m grateful that I know who I am and that is likely a very stark difference from you or the next person. It’s probably one of the most fascinating aspects of God: we’re all made uniquely in His image.
Additionally, I concede that we’re all made uniquely to take risks. And some, if not most, of those risks, aren’t always meant to be successful. Most of those risks will hurt and potentially burn you. Most of those risks will have the folks around you looking at you like you’re dumb, a heretic, brash — you know, just other. So Jum, why do you think we’re supposed to be taking risks?
Because every single aspect of our lives revolves around risk. It’s embedded in our day-to-day. When we wake up, hopefully, we brush our teeth with the idea that if you do so, your breath won’t be a stumbling block for those you talk to. What if that doesn’t work out, and your breath still kicks? What about when you hop into your car and expect the engine to turn on after you try to start it? Or when you go into that interview for the job you’re either overly qualified, under qualified for or just happy to have gotten? Then you get home and hop on to a bed that you expect to hold you up for the duration of the night. These are trifles of our day, but they all involve some measure of risk…faith that they’ll work in our favor.
[Intro 2] I really, really, really love birds if you didn’t know that already. I believe they, along with humans (and I guess fishes?) are some of God’s most creative work. Not only are there probably thousands of species, but there numerous different flight patterns, thousands of different calls and songs, so many different habits of different species. They’re truly fascinating.
I like to say that if I wasn’t a journalist, I could’ve been an Ornithologist, someone who studies birds. I say all this because I really, really, really want to fly. So much so that I had a recurring daydream for much of this last year of me jumping off the ground and flying to my next destination. One, because walking is boring as crap and too mainstream. Two, because if I could fly, I’d probably be on time to that destination. And three, because there’s freedom in flying. I’m just trying to be and stay free.
I often contend that faith is spelled r-i-s-k. If you’re a believer, you believe in a God and His Son Jesus Christ, whom you’ve very likely never seen with your eyes. (If you have, good on you partner.) I’ve come to rationalize that everything we do in the name of faith or religion is in the simplest terms: an assurance in the invisible. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to minimize or simplify God, or what anyone believes in, but unless you have seen, and even in the case of Thomas, touched, your belief system is rooted in the invisible and that is absolutely OKAY. You’re taking a risk to believe in something, rather Someone, you cannot see. And you’re betting your life on it.
“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)
[Intro 3] I like to think I’m a hopeless romantic with a lot of dream scenarios of how I plan on wooing my boo thang. This may or may not be a spoiler but one of the ways I’ve dreamed about proposing to my lady is as follows: *dun dun dun*
The plan — I get her friends to get her dressed up and take her out to a harbor/pier type of set up. She’s walking all willy nilly, fully unexpectant that her world is about to get rocked. Someone “randomly” approaches them and gets them to partake in some street trick. The random blindfolds my lady and leads her into a nice ring of flower petals. And just as she takes the blindfolds off, I’m parachuting down from a helicopter, suited up like I’m James Bond. If my timing’s right, I should land just as her blindfolds are off, and I’ll be on a knee with a ring in hand. Then I’ll pop the question: “Will you fly with me?”
Now, if this ever happens, just know that the woman would have known that I was a daredevil who lives for the thrill. If she says “no,” however, I’d fully understand that because who wants to marry a guy that risked his life just to propose? Right? *rolls eyes* But, if she says “yes” — *smirks* I’m gon’ just leave it at that.
The type of person I aspire to be is someone who takes risks in faith, against fear and inspires everyone around me to do the same. That’s really the reason I’m writing this. I think we’re all called to influence, impact and/or change the world in some way or another. This might be granular in that you start a community garden in your neighborhood or global in that you create the cure for the virus plaguing the world. This might be that you go out of your way to say “hi” to that loner in the hallway or that you take a bullet for a stranger. (Yes, I’m dramatic, you’re not?) No matter how big or how small, we were designed to do something that would influence and impact those around us or after us. The problem is, we don’t tend to get out of our own heads to do that.
I’ve talked to many older men and women who’ve expressed regret in not following their dreams or plunging into an idea. Many of my friends have pursued careers and majors that they didn’t necessarily love for various reasons, and it hurts me every time I hear about what they actually wanted to do. I’m sort of known for cringing when an African friend tells me they’re studying a science (usually Biology or Chemistry, and occasionally Nursing) because that’s what would make their parents “happy.” That sucks. And it’s not really living, is it?
Now, I can’t talk like I’ve done everything I’ve ever wanted to do. I, too, have missed a lot of opportunities because of fear and doubt and self-deprecation. I mean over the course of writing this for the last couple of months and thinking about this for Lord knows how long, I’ve probably amassed a hundred missed opportunities. Not only that, but I’ve also crashed and burned on a lot of those risks that I’ve taken. That’s just the life we live.
[Intro 4] Guy like me is a thrillseeker. I love the challenge of conquering a rollercoaster that has all the hype in the world. However, I’ve noticed that if I spend too much time in between rides not being air-bound, I lose interest in people and sometimes just life. It’s almost like a dark cloud over my head once I get off of a rollercoaster that is usually only cleared when I’m listening to the ride conductor countdown (or not :P). This quarantine has given that same effect on some days. Not being able to get on a rollercoaster, get in a pool or really enjoy the summer, has affected my mental health. I’m constantly having to remind myself to simply “breath” and “live”. I’m sure others can empathize with that. Please go away, Coronavirus. This was the year I was supposed to skydive for the first time, and you’re ruining the fun.
To me, this faith walk is this: God’s got me. No matter what I go through, no matter what troubles find my way, no matter what messes I make, God’s got me. And if I fall, I fall into Him. This is my invisible assurance that no failure is detrimental to my life because He’s the Author and Finisher. He’s faithful to never leave me nor forsake me. That if I ever go off track, His voice is there to tell me “this is the way to go, walk in it” or He’ll chase me down until He gets me and brings me back home. This means that if I take a risk and I fail, then He’s going to be right there to pick me up, clean me up and get me set to try the next one. Not only that, but I’ll also be the wiser and the better after.
So I’m here to charge and challenge myself and you to take the shot, buy the camera, change the major or career field, talk to that family member, move out your parent’s house, take that job out of state, jump out of the plane. Because, while it could be a failure, what if you fly?
“The graveyard is the richest place on earth because it is here that you will find all the hopes and dreams that were never fulfilled, the books that were never written, the songs that were never sung, the inventions that were never shared, the cures that were never discovered, all because someone was too afraid to take that first step, keep with the problem, or determined to carry out their dream.” — Les Brown
Also, Happy Mamba Day (8/24). Rest in Peace Kobe and Gianni. We miss you.