Friday, May 25, 2012

go get scared

"Do one thing every day that scares you." - Eleanor Roosevelt

I love a good quote.  In days that I can barely remember my own name in the midst of a merciless schedule, a good quote sticks, moves me and keeps me focused.  I'm sure that has something to do with how important the written word is in my life; when I see a few strung together in a particularly striking way, they have an affect, period.  The one above is a personal favorite.

Let's face it, in average days of carpooling, schedule maintenance, appointment remembering, home management and for many of us, work life, there are too few opportunities to really challenge our limits.  Days melt together, with sore butts from bleacher seating and lots of mind-wracking to get us and our loved ones to the right places at the right times.  There's little time to stand on the proverbial edge and freak ourselves out.

But last Sunday, we did.  Well, Mike actually loved every minute; I'm not sure this qualifies as a "scare" for him.  I, on the other hand, screamed and swore like a truck driver for nearly two straight hours as we rode the Tail of the Dragon through the Smoky Mountains.  Top down and flying at high speed, we experienced what I can only describe as the longest, most thrilling roller coaster ride imaginable.  Only eleven miles in length, the lead up and tail end made it feel much longer.  I was white-knuckled from beginning to end, wondering what I might look like in the professional photographs being taken all along the 11-mile stretch and if the actual explicative I was emitting would be visible on camera. 

This is the same stretch of road that my father-in-law, an expert motorcyclist, drove a few years ago.  He had an accident and miraculously only broke ribs and some pieces off his Harley.  So we knew it was dangerous territory that lied ahead.  We saw crazy wrecks, took corners at top speeds with absolutely no vision of what existed beyond the bend.  We turned 318 times, abruptly.  We flew through the most beautiful mountain forests.  We stopped three times at scenic overlooks to let a terrified minivan driver get further out in front of us, so that we could obtain the FULL EXPERIENCE. And although it might be the most irresponsible thing we could do as parents, we are considering driving home this way from North Carolina in August.  Our youth-filled, fearless kids would probably think the Tail of the Dragon is the coolest thing ever.

Imagine this at 50 mph!

Once we hit rock bottom, the metaphor of the whole experience hit home.  I was thrilled that we survived.  (Mike was just thrilled!)  I placed total trust in my Mario Andretti husband and he delivered (as if there were any doubt.)  We accomplished something totally amazing and out-of-the-box and had an experience like never before.  Even though thoroughly freaked out, we emerged victorious.

(Thanks to for this awesome image!)

We must remember this feeling.  This free, we-can-do-anything-and-create-our-own-experience-in-this-life-of-ours feeling.  No one else is responsible for what we do, how we grow and what we take away.  Scaring ourselves, catapulting ourselves forward in every way, surviving our fears and then thriving?  We all need just a little bit of that.  Every day.

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