eleven to go, that’s one down eleven to go, whoohoo!!” – the cheer (I never participated) that the other runners on track team would do after every lap. I would just think: you guys hear yourselves right? We still have eleven to go. Why are you celebrating?
Unlike how I feel after running 400 meters – today, I feel a sense of accomplishment. This past January I didn’t cure any diseases, change anyone’s life, or win any notable awards. I did none of that and I still found the time to watch seven seasons of The Office on Netflix.
I would have liked to have gone skydiving, streaking through baseball fields, traveling to foreign countries, and doing other radical and shocking things – but life is restricting. Radical experiences, as we tend to think of them, are often planned, calculated, and expected. I didn’t jump out of any planes; but I still feel as though I lived the last thirty days in a radical way.
My favorite “Firsts” of this month, and the most memorable, were the times when I saw and seized opportunities.
It always begins the same way: I see a big beard, a beloved restaurant owner, or a shivering mailman, and I immediately recognize the opportunity for action. My stomach drops and my heart beats up to my ears. I know that I have only minutes to take the selfie, go over for the handshake, or get out of my car and hand the hot chocolate to a complete stranger.
I almost never trust that I am going to go through with it.
I have this really stupid fortune cookie that I have saved since the sixth grade, it says: “Courage is not the absence of fear, it is the conquest of it.” I am aware of how ridiculously lame this is, but I have kept the slip of paper anyway. Mostly because I always want to be acknowledging when I feel terrified and instead of ignoring the feeling, I try to act because of it. In this way, my courage continues to grow.
It’s exhilarating, standing a part from your usual self and watching it do the unexpected, the uncomfortable, and the terrifying. It is this feeling that has propelled me throughout the first month of 2014. In February, I want to take more of these spontaneous risks. If Month One has taught me anything, it’s that taking a selfie of yourself with a bearded man can feel just as “radical” as anything else.