Sunday, May 2, 2010

A Daring Adventure

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing” said Helen Keller, an American writer who was struck blind and deaf by disease at the age of nineteen months. 

This, or a similar phrase, “Every day is a grand adventure,” has been my motto ever since college.  If I were to call you on the phone, you could bet that I’d ask “What’s new and exciting?”

Excitement and adventure are great concepts.  Snowboarding in the mountains, sailing on the ocean, trekking across Africa are some examples that people would think of when referring to an adventure.

I still have that sense of adventure, but I’ve noticed it changing, developing into something different.  Age and personal painful experience have led me to realize now that snowboarding is fun, but crashing is not.

Sailing could be fun, or it could be hours and days of monotony punctuated by moments of terror mixed with nausea. 

Trekking through Africa could be interesting, if not for the insects, wars, diseases, and all manner or crocodiles, lions, and other animals that would waste no time before eating or crushing you if you stumbled upon them.

In short, everything has its downside.  Which leads me to believe that every downside must have an upside. 

We most likely would never heard of Helen Keller if she were not stricken with disease.  The cares of the day would likely have distracted her.  Would she have taken the time to read and study as she did if she could run freely and play like the other children? 

Perhaps she would have married and raised a family, never learning much of Shakespeare.  Perhaps she would have been too busy doing her chores to walk through the woods noticing the “delicate symmetry of a leaf” or the “smooth skin of the silver birch.”

We each have challenges to face.  We must choose how we respond to our challenges.

One older lady that I know fell and broke some bones, and ended up in the hospital for weeks before returning home in a wheelchair.  She mourned her loss of freedom for a few days, but then confided in me that she was becoming grateful for the accident.  Before, she had always been on the move, babysitting, helping people, running errands.  Now, she had time to sit, to read, to think, and to pray. 

She especially was appreciative for the opportunity to truly sit and think and pray on behalf of her friends, neighbors and family.  Her fall turned out to be a gift.  She has made some progress, but still is in a wheelchair most of the time.  She still prays for friends and family.

A few years ago, I sat on the ground, shocked and dismayed.  I had injured my knee while playing a game with a bunch of Army folks, and I was unable to stand.  A couple of guys helped me over to a bench on the sidelines while another one went to fetch my car for me.  

I thought about what this injury might mean.  I was frustrated, hurt, and strangely alone for a few minutes.  As all tough guys would do, I’d said that I was fine…  So the other guys went back to playing the game for a few more minutes as I watched.

I was out of the game.  On the sidelines.  Broken.  Obsolete.

I was determined to turn this negative event into a positive experience.  Through therapy, surgery, and then much more therapy, I was able to regain much of my strength and ability, though I no longer play those fast moving, twisting games of youth.

Now I understand that every day IS an adventure, even if you don’t “climb every mountain” or “ford every stream.”  

I can appreciate the little things more than I used to.

Like a momma cat carrying her kittens to a new home on base.  New life, brought forth in the dust and gravel.

Like the hugs of new found friends as they prepare to return home.

Like the ability to touch lives, one at a time, whether with a kind word, service, or a small gift.

Helen may have said it best:
“A happy life consists not in the absence, but in the mastery of hardships.”

Not everything is new and exciting.  Often, old and comfortable is also worthwhile.  I’m starting to see the values of taking a little more time to enjoy the experience.

Every day still is a grand adventure, but now I know where I want to be when the adventure is over.  More importantly, I know who I want to be with.

1 comment:

Beth Earle said...

This entire post is full of profound thoughts! I'm going to retweet snippets making sure to give the author of the quotes mention. :) Well worth passing on!