Pulling the sheet back and rising out of bed is a great danger to yourself. Stepping into the day means your world might change drastically, or you may die. Relationships are always volatile, driving to work a statistically supported danger and your body an ever-aging machine. You could wake up and find everything has changed for you in a moment and dream of just crawling back in the bed, or yet, never return to it.
At the start of the pandemic, I understood the need to take some precautions. Time was needed to understand the virus and its effects and to have some type of game plan. We left the plan to politicians, and they are the most untrustworthy personality types on the planet to entrust important personal decisions.
The life of our family returned to normal very quickly, apart from the long separation from my mom which seemed reasonable for her age and all that was yet unknown. Living in Texas we did not feel suppressed as did friends in the UK, Michigan, and California. Their stories make me cringe.
I did not know what would happen if I caught Covid, but I decided to live now was better than hoping to live later as was the view of our immediate family. Danae and I traveled and took several incredible trips, I took a few alone and with friends across the country and enjoyed the beauty of America without the horrible crowds raking over the beautiful spaces pre-pandemic.
The most amazing moment was in August of 2020 as John Pribble, Brian Srba and I went to The Grand Canyon and had no problem booking a room at the iconic El Tovar Inn. We stood on the rim of the canyon across from the hotel with only a few other souls. We hiked the Bright Angel Trail and were not dodging tourist taking on something way beyond them, or obnoxious individuals with no respect for others. It was quiet and peaceful and for a moment I wished everyone else would stay living in fear forever and never come back out. A selfish thought for sure.
“Fortune favors the brave.” This is true.
In 2020 and 2021 I traveled as much as ever, even internationally. I followed their rules and pressed on to the experiences I was unwilling to give up, and I discovered along the way so many people just like me.
In April 2020 I experienced the last three of the 50 states at 50 years old. Hiking in North Dakota, South Dakota, and Nebraska. As I ended the adventure in Badlands National Park I was alone hiking in the park, listening to Leif Vollebeck’s sing “Elegy” as I danced in the settling sun and shadows of the sand hills.
Danae and I hiked and paddled from North Carolina to Colorado and enjoyed some of the best places on earth without the crowds.
All the while I watched my social media feed which included friends chastising those of us who said, “no” to staying home. Some who were older, some with little kids, and some with health issues. These are stages I’ve been in life and will be in the future and I’ll have my decisions to make to protect me and my family, but it will never come with a dictate of how others should live theirs.
I was vaccinated, boosted, wore a mask where required and still caught Covid twice, maybe three times. I chose my risk and in doing so we lived an incredible two years while others stayed close to home. I knew it could kill me and I understand I am fortunate to still have time here as some friends who made the choice to keep living died from the virus. It was their choice.
I was chatting with a friend last year about our kids and he made a statement I dwelt on for some time. He said, “You raised fearless children. Your daughter went off to the other side of the world to hike alone in a foreign country and met the love of her life and your son flies planes in one of the wildest places on the planet. Most parents never instill bravery.”
I never thought hard about it, but we did take great risks with our kids as they grew up.
By five years old I had them rappelling over 50-foot cliffs. We would climb mountains with extreme exposure. We would hike in wild places where everything could bite or sting. We swam in the ocean and paddled rivers. We let them travel alone in their teenage years in big cities and road trip with friends. We trusted them with weapons; they carried guns and from a young age our son always had a knife. At any moment the worst could happen.
Sarah on an Aussie style rappel
Death is an all-present specter hovering over us and those we love. One day he will have his way. He will bring grief, fear, questions, doubt, and regret and try to push us into seclusion and dare us to try and keep living. He will hover to keep us from engaging in new relationships, going new places, trying new things, or returning to our familiar patterns. He is coming no matter what – so live.
As a Christian it is so much easier to face death. Christ brings abundant life and hope beyond this world. His early followers did not fear death and willingly went into situations where survival was unlikely. In pursuit of sharing a message many a Christian in the modern world has seen new and beautiful places, met and loved incredibly different people and raised generations of fearless children.
Christ makes it easier to say yes to the risks in life. In saying yes to risk, I have spent time enjoying my family, creating stories, and building a foundation of how to live. In saying yes to risk, I have made friends and had the opportunity to use experiences to gain permission to speak into their lives. In saying yes to risk, I have found myself.
I think many people were surprised by death during the pandemic, as if death were some strange myth only spoke of by crazy religious people. So much of medicine and politics focuses on extending life so death seems distant as if it could be defeated.
Your kids will die, and if you are fortunate, you'll die first and not have to deal with the pain. But still they will die. We must teach them not to fear death and to take calculated risks in life. Set the stage of reality, tell them the truth and the dangers, and then tell them, "Jump!"
Your life will be short. Don’t live in fear and choose your risks for you and your family.
“I cannot escape death, but at least I can escape the fear of it.” —Epictetus