Growth In Recklessness

Life is coming for you. Regardless of your path, you will love, learn, make mistakes, have your heart broken, fall down, get up, and persist to the light when you’re in the dark. With enough time, every one of us will be carried through all the elements of life. But if you wish to reach the edges of yourself and the world, you must learn to be a little more reckless.

Most of us handle our lives with the gloved hands of a fearful antique dealer. We cover ourselves in bubble wrap. We find a neat box and set ourselves in it. We refuse to quit the job that’s crushing our soul or end the on-again-off-again relationship that’s been draining us emotionally. We refuse to pick up a paintbrush or put down a word because what if we fail? What if we uncover that we really aren’t all that talented or clever?

Steve Jobs nailed it when he said: “Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use.”

Everyone is just someone, but the people who succeed are usually those who understand that within each of us is far more resilience, creativity, and persistence than we realize.

We are not fine china, we’re adaptation machines. Adapting to new challenges and new environments is what humans do better than anything else. We live on the poles. We sleep in the desert. Among us are artists, scientists, and adventurers. Anything we can imagine, we are capable of doing. Usually, it just requires some recklessness to get started down that path.

Of course, being open to failure is easier said than done. We’re wired to maintain security and homeostasis. It’s what helped us survive through the millennia when calories were scarce and predators abundant. Today, fear of failure, rejection, or ridicule can be overwhelming, but in most cases, those are echoes of an era when taking risks could mean starvation, injury, or death.

Thankfully, overcoming the fear of failure is a practice, not an overnight transformation.

Starting a hobby you’ve been putting off, initiating a conversation in the park, or riding your bike to work to feel your heartbeat are all enough to rebel against the inertia of fear. Small acts may seem inconsequential but they build momentum. They accumulate. Each act of recklessness, no matter how minor, stretches your comfort zone, making room for larger, more significant actions and giving you the contrast needed to define yourself and your values.

In a way, each day of The World Walk was an act of recklessness. Every hour was an improvisation. I had to figure out where to get water, where to buy food, what roads to walk, how to manage a new culture, how to speak a new language, and where to hide away at night. Each morning, I took a step into the unknown; trusting that I had it in me to navigate the day ahead. Over the years, I maintained my courage with the very fact of life that initially scared me more than any other: time will pass and death will come.

If death is inevitable and you bring nothing with you, then it makes no difference whether you die at seven or seventy. And if when you die is irrelevant, then to live anything but the fullest, most authentic version of your life is madness.

By risking failure, we allow ourselves to grow. We give ourselves the chance to transform, understand who we are, and bloom in the most extraordinary way.

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