Living Life Without Regrets

I used to live my life without much regard for my safety. I did what I wanted when I wanted, and while I took reasonable precautions, in general I wasn't overly occupied with thoughts of danger.

Over the past few years, I built up a life for myself that could lead to a nice secure future. I got to a point of financial stability and job and career security, and I gave up risks that might jeopardize those. I was working toward a family, so I stopped thinking about the things I wanted to try before I got there.

In the past year, enough has happened to completely turn that back around for me. The recession, heartbreak, family struggles, health scares...so much has fallen together to remind me to look inward and determine what's important to me.

While what I really want is to travel, spending time in lots of crazy remote places where a saner person might not venture, I do still have some restraints. I'm in school, I've got a job, I've got the chance to invest now in a way that could lead me to a job that would allow me the ability to do the travel I want in the future. What these restraints don't do, however, is keep me from pursuing some of the adventures I can locally. Sailing, salsa dancing, climbing, caving, surfing, skydiving, scuba, intense yoga retreats...these are all things I can do here, and I've avoided because I felt like I was saving time and money for something that just isn't gonna happen now. I felt like I'd have time to do those things, but the truth is, I might not.

I was talking to my sister, an insurance agent, today about adding another life insurance policy so that I could feel a bit better about protecting my mom. She, of course, wanted to know why. So I told her. I'm scared to wait to do the things I'm scared to do. I want to do everything that scares me, and I want to do it now.

Some things that scare me are simple and silly. The other night I was walking with A to the gym and we passed the boxing gym with a sign that said "First Class Free". I was having a very difficult day and not feeling super confident, and A kinda reached toward my arm to pull me in and just walked to the front desk and asked how we get started. The guys (totally hot, btw!) were so amused by us, and specifically asked us to come back when one of them would be teaching. We're now set to start next week. I'm so excited about this little act. Yes, simple, silly - why would I be scared of a boxing class? Why am I intimidated by a bunch of guys and staring and judging and thinking I'm not good enough? Ridic, but still a real fear.

Other things that scare me are a little more serious. I want to walk by a cliff by the ocean and climb it because it's there - not because someone has a rope course already laid out. I want to boulder in the surf along the coast. I did a teensy bit of that down in Big Sur in December, but it was just enough to whet my appetite. I want to explore a cave nobody knows. I want to go where I want to go, regardless of locks or fences or signs. I want dive a shipwreck, jump out of a plane, sail down the coast...I want to do it all.

This is what I told my sister. I guess I expected her to argue with me because I found myself surprised when she told me that she not only supported my decision, but also encouraged me to do everything I can while I can. She reminded me that while our family lives long lives, you never know when some health scare or financial trauma will hit and make everything impossible. If I'm gonna do it, I need to do it now.

She ended the phone call by telling me something she's said to me many times over the years. There are many iterations of this quote, but my sister's simplified, drawled version is by far my favorite:

There's no reason to live my life so I come out pretty in the end. I wanna come out all used up and messy and screaming, "Wooo Hoooo, What a Ride!"

Thanks, Sissy.

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