I Dare You

I dare you to read this post.

I dare you to cross the imaginary line that separates you from where you are and where you could be. A place where you may find something new and worthwhile.

I dare you to cross a line you don’t even see yet. A line that offers you an adventure you weren’t counting on. Can you resist the dare? Do you want to resist it?

As a kid I heard the words ‘I dare you’ pretty often from my friends. Most of the time they were trying to get me to do something stupid. Something that I’d look foolish doing or would likely hurt me and they could enjoy some laughs at my expense. That’s often what young boys do.

Well actually, that’s what older boys do too.

I was fairly good at resisting their pleas, so they escalated the intensity of the phrase, getting louder and louder. I DARE YOU, they would shout. Eventually I had to decide if I would knuckle under or walk away. Unfortunately, I didn’t always walk away and they ended up getting their laughs and yes, I ended up getting hurt.

The older I got the better I was able to ignore those who dared me. But a funny thing happened. I began to take over their taunt and dared myself to do things.

One time I was walking through a train yard and thought it might be fun to hop onto one for a ride. I dared myself to do it and disengaged my brain. The next second I was running alongside the moving train and hoisting myself into the open boxcar. So far, so good I thought.

After the train picked up some speed my brain reengaged and I thought it might be beneficial for me to get off before it sped up any more.

Here’s the thing about jumping off a moving train, in case no one ever dared you to do it. You have to hit the ground running at least as fast as the train is moving or you fall. Hard.

In my case, after jumping off, I took one step and fell forward, a pretty spectacular face plant, into a roadbed of cinders. Cinders are very hard, sharp, unforgiving black rocks that can pierce clothing easily. And they hurt. Quite badly.

Now you would think I would learn from this experience not to do it again. From where I sit today, I would have counseled my younger self to choose some other dare.

You’ve probably guessed already.

Nope. I dared myself to do it again. Perhaps to prove that I can learn from my errors in judgement (mistakes).

So, I dusted myself off and hopped aboard another train. This time, as it sped up, I ran inside the boxcar and jumped out, got my balance and continued running, keeping pace with the train. I slowed after a short distance and then stopped, watching the train disappear into the distance. Ahhh, success! How sweet.

I wonder whether anyone has dared you to do something you didn’t want to do. Or maybe, you decided to dare yourself. Often dares are meant to challenge you and it can be difficult to overcome your fears or to take a chance, not knowing the outcome. Sometimes the risk seems excessive or you’ve seen others attempt and fail and you don’t want to experience the same results.

What if you knew for certain that you could accomplish whatever you or someone else dared you to do? Would you do it then? Do you need that much certainty?

Here’s my dare for you. I dare you to believe that love is the answer to everything. I dare you to accept that you are loved unconditionally by (the universe, spirit, the divine, god, or whatever you view as sacred). I dare you to be the answer to someone else’s prayer or need. I dare you to look inside of yourself and embrace you innate goodness knowing that you are beautiful and worthwhile and radiant.

I believe you are all these things and more.

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Roadside Treasures

Part 2 of 2

Note: Please see Post #58 for Part 1 of 2

On rare occasions, when the traffic is backed up, a conversation will occur between myself and my roadside friend. An exchange of words, about the weather, or what one sports team is doing or how their day has been.

I was even asked once how I was doing. This came from someone I happened to recognize, because he stands in the same spot and I pass by him quite often. He recognizes me too. He seems to be watching for my car and for me.

As it happened, I’d just given him an offering a few days earlier and I noticed a slight hesitation on my part, in reaching for the folded bill, as I approached him. For that single moment I wondered whether to give him another offering so soon.

I quickly decided that he was no less homeless than the last time I gave him money. The momentary delay on my part stayed with me all the way home. I have so much. He has so little. The disparity between us is so stark and yet a part of me wanted to hold back.

In the end, I made the decision I wanted to, but there was a lingering feeling I needed to allow into my consciousness. I knew something still needed to be brought into the light, if I allowed it.

Once in a great while the receiver appears angry to me. As they walk toward my car, their emotions reach me before they do. I feel a wave hit me. I wonder to myself, what must it be like to wait by the side of the road, dependent on the mercy and generosity of unknown folks passing by? How must it feel to be uncertain whether you’ll have enough money to eat, to have a safe place to sleep or be able to buy clothes to keep you warm? I try to lose all of my misplaced blame and suspicion and remember why I am here. I am here to be ‘kin’ (family) to others.

Usually, I am the only one in the car when these offerings are made. But, once in a while, others are with me. I find this changes the dynamic, even if it doesn’t alter the outcome. I wonder what they are thinking and sometimes we talk about it. They ask questions and I do my best to answer. I share with them that there are more men (82%) than women (18%) standing by the side of the road and that it must be scary at times, no matter who you are.

And, when asked, I share my favorite experience.

It happened in April of 2017, at the intersection of a highway off ramp and a major city street in downtown Asheville, North Carolina. Maureen and I were on vacation and were having a fabulous trip. I wasn’t expecting to see anyone standing at that busy intersection, but there he was. I wondered if I could get to my wallet fast enough and then saw that the light was about to turn red. Good, I thought, I have enough time. He started walking toward the row of cars we were in. Finally, he reached us and I rolled down the window and held out a folded bill to him. He took it and said, “thank you very much” (emphasizing the word ‘very’), then paused, and looking a little chocked up, stared into my eyes and said, “this is a sacred moment.” He stood there, maintaining eye contact, until I was forced to move forward with the traffic flow.

I believe I felt what he was feeling, a divine presence in the exchange, a roadside treasure for each of us to keep.

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