Friday, July 15, 2016

Why I Did It

  • I did it for love.
  • I did it to inspire.
  • I did it because I was afraid.

Sounds very dramatic, doesn’t it? It might be disappointing to realize I’m just talking about going on a trip with my daughter, but that’s it. 

We embarked on a 1500-mile girls’ drive up the east coast to tour 13 colleges in 13 days. Some initial reactions I received were shock at the cost or shock at the fact that two women were doing this alone or questioning as to whether it was a good idea to give my daughter encouragement to move away. Some even did their own self-questioning, as if they were somehow short-changing their children because they didn’t do the same. That surprised me. I wasn’t doing this to make a statement to anyone other than my daughter.

I once heard a pastor ask a church to think of one time they felt really loved. I tended to think of showing love in terms of a consistent self-sacrificing devotion to someone, until that moment. Don’t get me wrong . . . I still think that. But in that moment, as he knew we would, we all thought of something that someone did or said that was above-and-beyond, or at least outside the ordinary. I’m not saying that the normal routine self-sacrifice of devotion to another isn’t the most loving thing you can do, but is that what stands out to the ones you want to show love to? That illustration stuck with me. So, I did it for love . . . to show her I love her enough to plan for months and to stop everything else for only her for two weeks. I hope she felt loved.

I also never even considered thinking outside the box when it was time for me to go to college. I went to the most reasonable option at the time, one that was close to home and wasn’t too expensive. Selfishly, I kind of hope she chooses a college with some of those same criteria. But more than that, I wanted to let her explore her dreams of moving to a big city and doing something completely crazy and out of the ordinary. I want her to dream and believe that she can achieve those dreams and not be caged in by the expected. I know it’s not the most practical, but I hope she was inspired.

Ultimately, I think I did it because I was afraid. Surviving cancer will certainly change your perspective. No longer do you coast through life assuming you’ll live to a ripe, old age. You are well aware of your mortality, that you cannot take one day for granted. Each day is a gift. I often think of the song, “Live Like You Were Dying,” by Tim McGraw. So far, it has not inspired me to go skydiving, but every time I hear it, I am reminded that I have been given bonus time that many others have not been given. It makes me afraid . . . that I will squander that time, that my bonus time could still run out (as could everyone’s), and that those I love won’t have as many special memories of us together as we could have had. So many fears can creep in, but ultimately, I am far more afraid of missing out on the life I’ve been given in the present than the life I don’t know if I’ve been given in the future. So, fear drove me to make memories now, not later, not when it's practical, not when it's safe. In the end, those memories are all our family and friends will have of us.

In light of the almost constant tragic news bombarding us on the airwaves, I hope we will all be driven to show those most important to us an extra dose of love, to inspire them to pursue dreams, and to let whatever fears we have drive us to DO, rather than NOT do. I have others in my life I’d like to show an extraordinary love to and to inspire. I hope my fear will drive me to continue making what could be mundane a lot more memorable! Will you join me?


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