It’s been ten days since the launch of 52 Dares. I’ve been taking in every single hooray, compliment and congratulations. I’ve been drinking it in, actually. Because after a long time of dreaming it up – and getting caught up at times in the details (like 20 edits to some sections and realizing eventually that my first go-round was actually best) – I was thirsty. Thirsty for a sweet sip of yes-I-did-it – that moment of stepping back and realizing that I didn’t just dream it up; I acted on it. I set it into motion. I shared it with the world.
Oh, shit. I shared it with the world.
By day three, I was shaking in my boots. I was on a mental rollercoaster of wondering what the world might think of it. I considered each of my friends and old acquaintances – and their friends and, heck, even strangers. I wanted to know if they thought my idea was good. Really good. Worthy. Pause-worthy.
I got all caught up in my head.
And soon after that, my body followed. I am not one who usually has difficulty sleeping. When I lay down my head, I usually lay down any worries with it. But no so this past week. I stayed awake far past when my eyelids grew heavy. Checking my e-mail. Counting the subscriptions. Tweeting. Posting. Writing. Hoping. Worrying.
And, at times, freaking out.
And then – and this is a true story – I took on the first dare. It so happens to be the very thing that helps unwind me. Shortly after I set out, I came across a poetry tree. There, in the midst of a river path, someone decided to turn a tree into an inspiring work of art. This person – this dreamer – clearly had a big vision.
Guess what? There were a grand total of three poems on it. THREE.
And yet, as I stood at the base of this tree – inviting us all to slow down and take in some beauty – I wondered, did that make it any less beautiful? Did having only three poems take away from my awe that someone, somewhere, decided to make the path – the world – more sacred? More lovely?
I went home that evening and tapped out my own simple poem to pin to the poetry tree. I will join you, dreamer. Then I turned off the computer, soaked myself in a cool shower and went to bed early.
And I woke up with a little more perspective. This is not a race, or a popularity contest, or an attempt to be famous. This is an offering – an expression of who I am and what I believe to be true. And that has an altogether different measure of success.
In fact, the outcome is far less important than how much of myself I give; how true I am to the principles that guide me.
And I realized how much that speaks to any real adventure in our lives. There is no road map or instruction manual that tells us what the final destination or result will be if we do a, b, c, d… and so on – as much as we may wish it were so. (And sometimes we cling to the hope – or demand – that we know.)
But perhaps the brave act required is to quell the voices in our heads (and perhaps around us) telling us to stop, to proceed with caution, to avert the risk ahead – so that we can hear the quieter, calmer voice within us that whispers…keep going.
Did you hear that?