I was about 7, maybe 8 years old, when I made a wish/promise to myself. I would do something big. This was juxtaposed with something that I knew was knitted into my DNA: I was a scaredy cat. If anything involved risk, I wasn't signing up - and yet, I sat on this idle Saturday afternoon, swiping at the dust motes that floated in front of me, promising myself for no apparent reason, that I was going to live large.
Without the daily motivation of a mantra like "Go big or go home!," I have somehow pushed myself to do things that fraidy cat me, wouldn't. The memory of my actions in those moments, thrills me to a shivering mess.
I loved every second of the following top ambitious moves on my part: (don't dare stop the Yes)
--Like being in the third grade and tiring of my brothers giddily going up the down escalator at the department store while I watched, knowing I'd never be brave enough to try. I stood at the bottom, knowing my mother was busy in a check out line. I knew it was now or never. I surprised myself more than my two brothers, when I unpredictably jumped and ran up the stairs while they were going down. Holy Moley, I stared down at my feet not believing they were mine on the steps. I did it.
--Though I had grown up in a from-scratch cooking house, it was not a baking house. No one ever made a cake, nor did they know what a cupcake was. What we did know, was where the best bakeries within 5 miles of our house were. Nevertheless, on the day that my 5th grade math book had a word problem about ounces and 1/4 cups all built around an orange cake recipe, I put the book down on the dining room table and asked myself why not. Why NOT. And that was the day that our dinner, for the first time ever, had home made cake.
--Our neighborhood community pool had a slide in the deep end of the water. Today, it would be shut down before parents could petition for it to happen. Tall, it was made of smooth metal that grew slippery with wet feet climbing its steps. Without rails at the top and lording over a cement pool, how did this even become a possibility? Yet, it was there, and at last 15 feet high. Some may say I had a death wish that August day, but I will tell you the truth - it gets tiring watching from the sidelines. I was going to climb those stairs, white knuckled with a heart thumping in my chest, but the day of reckoning had come. I told no one what I was about to do but my ears were not deaf to my brothers below screaming OH MY GOD IT CANNOT BE HER. Yes, brothers, it was her, and she was praying she wouldn't faint before she made it to the top. (I didn't faint, but had it been twenty feet high, I'd be telling a different story)
--Radio station record giveaways were something I listened to and I lived envious of the ones who believed they stood a chance to win. Day after day, the 5 o'clock drive offered up the newest albums. I knew I wouldn't come close so why try. One Friday afternoon, something took a hold of me and I picked up the phone, and though I was never a die hard fan of Gladys Knight and The Pips, I pushed the buttons to be the 98th caller. I was the 17th, then the 49th, then the next number, but then, the DJ answered my rings with "You're our 98th caller!" I had stuck it out, and perseverance had won me the album. I had said Why The Hell Not.
--It's easy to watch the A group rule the roost. No one ever challenges them and if you're in the C group as I was, you come to accept that the world has unfair moments. Some days, your mind lands on a new page, and you ask yourself what would happen if you threw a wrench in the cogs of the wheel. And that's how I found myself running for 7th grade school treasurer. No heroic outcome here, I lost and only received two votes (mine and Paul Mueller's, who wanted to ask me to the school dance) BUT I ran against cute Susie Campbell, and it felt good to say Why The Hell Not.
If any Why The Hell Not moments come your way, recognize them. Do a couple of deep breaths to steady that pounding in your chest, and take the chance. Even if the breaths don't do a thing to bring in that bounding pulse, at least you lived large for that heart stopping moment in time, when you look at your own hands and feet doing something you don't do and can't believe the beast that you are.
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