Could you crash someone else’s adventure?

It’s football season, and that reminds me of something I’m not really crazy about: football.

How about you?

Chances are, you fall into one of two camps: 1) people who are mystified by the mass appeal of this sport or 2) people like my husband, Ben (a huge fan of college football, Virginia Tech in particular) who cannot wait for the season to start. Every game is an adventure to them, a trek into the Land of Unknown Finishes, the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat, and all that.

For years I’d been meaning to learn more about the game. Then one Christmas Ben gave me a reservation in Coach Frank Beamer’s Football Clinic for Ladies. Yes, believe it or not, 700 women actually paid for a day at Virginia Tech to learn about playing with pigskin.

Who needs to hear from you?

Dear Jill,

I love you so much. I would give anything I own to be with you right now, my precious. I really don’t know how much longer I can stand to be without you. You are the sweetest, most considerate person in the world. I feel you are a blessing, a gift to my life. You are the most wonderful thing that ever happened to me.

                                                            from Ben to me circa a long time ago

The year before Ben and I were married, we were 600 miles apart more days than we were together. So we wrote to each other every day, keeping the ol’ flame uber-fanned.

These are the letters that steamed themselves open before they got to the post office.

These are the letters that one day–when our daughter finds them in the attic– will make her throw up in her mouth.

But these are also the letters that–if our house were to catch fire–I would fight to save.

Because the power of words on paper is mighty, friends.

What scares you?

I’m guessing this question isn’t hard for you to answer.

In fact, I’m guessing that, in thinking about it, a whole kennel of miscellaneous fears started barking at you if you entertained the thought for even a minute.

ALL of us are afraid of something, since there are so many opportunities to cower and shake and obsess and descend into darkness these days—on a global, regional and personal scale.

But consider this: maybe whatever is currently scaring you can point the way to a life of adventure.

How?

So glad you asked…because that question, as always, reminds me of a story:

One year our church was sponsoring a women’s retreat titled Trusting God in the Ups and Downs of Life.  I was in charge of finding a drama and designing a set to enhance the theme.

I ultimately decided on a great sketch titled No More Womb, where the two main characters are unborn twins, hanging out in utero, discussing all that they look forward to and all that frightens them about entering the outside world.

Corralling actors was easy; designing the set, however, was a challenge since, let’s be honest, the requirements for this one were fairly weird.

So I asked a graphic artist if he could design us a backdrop that looked like a giant womb big enough to hold two adults dressed like fetuses.

Will you make a friend who’s different from you?

I grew up thinking I was not athletically gifted. It all started in the third grade on the playground during a kickball game. One boy in my class (we’ll call him Butch) was pitching the ball to me. He rolled it, and I ran to nail the thing with all my might, aiming my foot for a vicious attack.

Well, give me an A for effort. I flung my leg in the direction of the ball…and completely missed it. Missed. It. A huge, rubber playground ball. I am not sure how on earth this could have happened, but it did, which was bad enough. But worse, just at that moment, a good stiff wind caught my dress and blew it straight up into my face.

And Butch (being Butch) could not let this pass without a terrible, horrible, no good very bad comment:

“HEY BIG PANTIES!” he yelled. “YOU MISSED!”

I remember wanting to knock the kid into next week, but the wind was still blowing, and I was afraid of ballooning into another sideshow, so I told myself I didn’t care.

Didn’t care? I still remember it decades later. And I remember it as the beginning of the voices in my head telling me that I was not athletic–not coordinated, not graceful, not fast. Those voices ragged me for a long, long time.

No more.

What are your magic moments?

You don’t engineer or plan them; they take you by surprise and fill you with delight (sometimes in the most unlikely places). They expand your vision beyond your current troubles, and transport you—not away into escape, but back in touch with your heart. The expansive part of your heart, not the breaking part.

You’ve most likely had a bunch of magic moments in your life, and so have I.

What’s it like to be you?

This, my friends, is the Mother of all questions. It’s so right on so many levels.

What's it like to be you?

Asking this question will help you resolve a conflict; it will help you understand another perspective; it will shed light on the (particularly exasperating) behavior of someone whose (particularly exasperating) behavior has a big effect on your life and times.

And if you ask it of yourself, the answer will likely hold a significant clue to the adventure you were born to live.

What would you do if you had no fear?

Let’s get this straight right out of the gate:

What would you do if you had no fear?

This question is in regard to adventure, not revenge or anything that totally disregards human decency. You may want to tell someone off or worse, and be afraid of the consequences. Good for you. Because that’s not what we’re talking about here. (Although we may be talking about having a necessary difficult conversation, or telling someone you love them. Now that’s an adventure.)

Or you may be reminded of your younger years, before your brain had fully developed, when you had almost no fear of anything, and did some incredibly dumb stuff.

What we’re talking about is this: sometimes, you’d like to participate in an adventure, and you’re afraid. So you don’t. But  you should.

What do you regret not doing?

Most of us have no trouble rattling off a decent sized list of dumb stuff we regret having done.

What do you regret not doing?

There. You’ve already thought of a couple things, haven’t you?

But what about invitations to adventure you regret declining? The heartbreak of “woulda-coulda-shoulda”?

Granted, there’s no un-doing an opportunity missed in the past…but that kind of regret can, I believe, give your reluctant spirit a wallop in the pants, and motivate you to say “yes” in the future.

A while back, my mom and I were at the Virginia State Fair, when we came upon an adorable chimpanzee–and for five dollars you could have a high quality Instamatic photo taken with her.  When I caught sight of that irresistible offer, I begged, “Mom, Mom, please can we have our picture taken with the chimp? Pleeeeease?” but my mother, who had always been a bit more reserved than I, resisted.

“But why not?” I wanted to know.

“Well,”she said slowly, obviously trying to think of a good reason, “twenty years from now someone might get a look at it and think it’s a three generation picture.”

Quick thinking on her part, and not a bad excuse. Still I was disappointed. And I stewed in that disappointment for a long time, kicking myself for not insisting on making an iconic moment for the ages.

And I actually kicked myself for almost twenty years…until one night, lying in bed, I had an idea.

If you were watching a movie of your life, would you cheer?

Can you name a movie you love so much, you’ve watched it multiple times?

If you were watching a movie of your life, would you cheer?

Maybe you like it for one of these reasons:

  1. It’s funny. And somehow, the funny never gets old. Humor is very, very important.  Of course, your idea of funny may be someone else’s idea of stupid, but there’s actually a lot to be said for stupid.
  2. It’s romantic. You can pooh-pooh this as cheesy and formulaic, but a happy ending following a fair amount of tension is pretty doggone gratifying.
  3. It’s action-packed, full of excitement and adrenaline-infused moments.  It’s rewarding to watch someone overcome extraordinary odds, and emerge on top.
  4. It’s do-the-right-thing, and  inspiring to see a character power through great resistance to do what’s right–whatever that is.

When you’re watching a movie, you may think you’re just passively taking in some entertainment, but consider this:

I believe that deep in the belly of your favorite movies sits a key to living your life of adventure.