“Life is a daring adventure or nothing at all.”
When I was younger, I was fascinated by the Choose Your Own Adventure book series. What fascinated me most was that the books didn’t TELL a story; you CHOSE the story. You choose which page to turn to in response to a situation.
An example page may have read:
To your left you see a dark forest, and to your right, an empty grass field
If you take the path left to the forest, turn to page 8.
If you take the path right to the field, turn to page 16.
Ultimately, if you made a series of correct choices, you’d eventually get to the “end” of the book (which was never the last page; it was usually buried somewhere deep in the middle).
As much as I was fascinated at having ownership of the story, I equally remember being frustrated. You see, the choices I always made were the safe ones, like choosing the empty field over the dark forest. And those “safer” choices were frustrating because sometimes the obvious right choice (like taking the safe, empty, open field…hello!??!) would lead to certain doom while the unorthodox choice led to success.
It’s been a while since I’ve read one of those books, but the lessons of courage, conviction and persistence have stayed with me. These books taught me less about happy endings and more about creating MY ending by owning my voice and my power to choose. Even more, rather than focusing on an exact ending, these books taught me to live in the Now, as that was the only time I had the chance to make a choice. But, what I learned most from these books was the only way to live life as a daring adventure was to make it one. That required that I didn’t just choose the “safe” options. It meant I had to get uncomfortable. Take a chance. Live on the edge.
There is value in looking at your life and living your life as though it is a Choose Your Own Adventure Book.
When we view life as a series of choices WE get to make, rather than circumstances handed to us, we realize that we are the ones in control.
It causes a shift in perspective from Why is this happening to me to What can I do with this? Where will this lead me? What will this teach me?Living life through this lens reminds us that we are the authors of our lives and the masters of our mouth. We get to design the next chapter from where we are currently. Our life-our present circumstances-is an accumulation of our previous thoughts, words, attitudes and actions. All that we have thought or done has led us to this very point. But each moment is ours. Each moment we get to choose. We always have a choice if we will venture into the empty field or the dark forest.
Sometimes you’ll choose the empty field. Maybe you’ll keep choosing it. Maybe you’ll keep choosing the safer options, until you realize doing the same thing over and over again, yet expecting a different result, isn’t getting you anywhere you want to be. I lived so many years choosing the empty field. I was terrified of trying something new because god forbid I fail. I lived so many years in an empty field where I wasn’t owning the power of my voice or setting clear intentions (because again, why set them if I fail to get “there”).
One day you’ll choose the dark forest. You’ll venture into the unknown. You’ll face the fear of: having a difficult conversation, trying a new workout, owning the power of your voice, doing something on your own, or ______________ (fill in your adventure). And what you’ll realize when you finally take that leap is that sometimes choosing the “safer,” easier option means you aren’t choosing your adventure. It means you’re choosing the path of least resistance. Only when we get outside our comfort zones and into truly “adventurous” situations can we live a life we love and have a life worth living.
Helen Keller says, “Life is a daring adventure or nothing at all,” and nothing can be closer to the truth. What I’ve learned is that life is far richer in the dark forest. Even when I trip over a log or get lost in those woods, the joy, the fullness at which I can experience life is that much richer. It was terrifying to cut back on and give up my weight loss packets. But it was freeing to let go of my need for control. I was initially scared to death to teach different varieties of fitness classes at a much slower pace than I’m used to. But it has allowed me to grow and flex my creative muscle. It was petrifying to own my voice and tell a friend that I loved her and to share my sexuality with my husband. But it was a huge exhale and I gained much courage from it. Even more, I was fear-stricken to give up that vision-that feeling I had for this individual. But, it was only when I let go of expectations and that outcome, that I opened up to more possibility and love than I could have ever imagined.
Choosing to live a life YOU love in a body you love-choosing YOUR own adventure-isn’t about treading water. It’s not about playing defense against bad things happening. It’s about having the courage to step forward and try the adventurous things you’ve always wanted to do. Every moment you have a choice over what it is you think, say and do. Every moment is an opportunity FOR adventure. And every path, every decision you make, leads somewhere.
The only question to ask yourself now is:
“If I continue down this path, will I get where I want to go?” …and if not, that decision to change paths is always yours.
May you call up the courage to venture into your dark forest this week.