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a long December

There are times where we unable to recognize something for what it is. Not what it was or what it could be, but it’s current state. For whatever reason (and there are plenty of possible reasons), our vision is obscured just enough to make that impossible. It’s not good or bad. It just is what it is. (For the record, I dislike that phrase. It is whatever you make it, damn it. Don’t like something? Change it. Period. But that’s another rant for another day.)

Have you ever seen the movie We Bought a Zoo? I did. And I took it to heart. At the time, my mother was dying of cancer. And she loved the movie, because something about it gave her faith and hope. If you haven’t seen it, it’s about a family who buys a zoo shortly after the wife/mother passed away. It sounds ridiculous, I suppose – except it’s based on a true story. Truth is always stranger than fiction, no?

There’s a scene where Matt Damon’s character tells his son the importance of having “twenty seconds of insane courage.” It’s a beautiful moment. For me, that solidified the idea that it’s always better to try, reach out, do, speak, love, dance, ask, tell, and a thousand other action words. To exist may be safer and easier, but to live is the marrow of life.

Two years ago this December, I did a crazy thing. I quoted from that movie and said a truth out loud. It was my truth. It was the right thing. Not the easy thing, but the insane, honest thing. I’m not sorry about it in the least, although it led to a serious of difficult moments and a few instances of disappointment. That’s life.

You have to say things out loud. Don’t assume people automatically know how you feel, what you want, or what you’re hoping. Take a deep breath, and leap. Use those twenty seconds to be brave with every ounce of your being.

Since that December day, I’ve gone down a rabbit hole in a lot of ways. Things have happened, some amazing and some utterly heartbreaking. Maybe they all, in a way, sprang out of that one moment. It’s resulted in some of the best moments in my life and some of the most painful.

Do I regret it? No. Not even for a half an instant. Let me repeat this: I do not regret it. In fact, even knowing everything I know now, I’d do it again. I’d do the same exact thing if given the choice right now. No questions, not hesitations. This may, in some people’s eyes, make me certifiable. Fuck ’em. My life, my rules.

But here’s another thing I realized: it takes a lot of courage to really change your life. It’s easy to sit back, detached from a situation, and judge it. To label it stupid or easy to solve. Or something we can slide quietly into a box. Reality reveals how untrue that really is – and how it’s never easy to be brave.

There are also times where we make something more complicated than it is – maybe because we’re scared. And, guys, it’s okay to be scared. If you’re never scared, you’re probably not venturing outside of your comfort zone. But you know what’s outside your comfort zone? Possibilities. All of them. I learned a long time ago not to be the reason something didn’t happen or work out. What I mean isn’t that I’m flawless and some kind of shining paragon of awesome. I’m not. But what I am is a person who does and says things.

Even when my hands shake, and I feel like I might die. Even when I can’t get out the words in something more eloquent than a rapid-fire breathy mess. Even when I have to take a deep breath and hit send before I lose whatever nerved I’ve cobbled up. Even when the thing I’m trying to do seems ten kinds of crazy.

Thinking about that December day, it doesn’t wreck me like it used to. Because I was my best self, even if that self is a little sideways. There are no regrets for all the times I’ve leapt into something or all the times I’ve spoken up.

Right now, darlings, this is your moment. Do the thing you’re dreaming about, and reach for the thing that excites and terrifies you. It might be a long December in a lot of ways (Counting Crows, ftw), but this new year – hell, this next moment – is an opportunity.

You’ve got twenty seconds of insane courage in you. Use it. Day ain’t over yet, darlings – let’s see what you do with it.

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