I'll just get back to it and spare you the details of why I haven't been blogging for the past 2 years. It's mundane, really. And I've truly enjoyed reading All the Other Blogs in the Big Blog World during my hiatus.
Last night, a cross-country bicyclist from Poland slept in our barn. It wasn't a pre-arranged event. He merely knocked on our door and asked.
We said yes and invited him in for pizza.
Cue thoughts of every Criminal Minds episode you've ever seen.
I've been thinking a lot lately about taking risks. It's a part of me that used to be standard. Wear MC Hammer pants? Why wouldn't I? Play boys' basketball? Sure! Pick up a hitch-hiker? Of course.Walk-on to a college volleyball team even-though-the-coach-pretty-much-told-me-I-sucked? Why not? Backpack to Amsterdam by myself? Yes, please. Move to a different state with no place to live? Well, duh. Do it again? And this time for a boy? Abso-frickin'-lutely!
I'm a risk-taker by nature.
And then I had children.
And the risks suddenly stopped being worth it.
But I miss them.
Here's the thing about risks. There's always a down-side. Things always have the potential to end up disastrous. However, the up-side will always prove to be fulfilling blessings that improve your quality of life experiences exponentially.
"What prompted you to bike across the States?" I asked.
"Why not? We are only here for a short time," he said in broken English with an accent Jackson described as "He's speakin' Spanish". The cyclist went on, "It's an experience I will never regret. I will know myself better, will know the world around me better, will know my God better, will appreciate my family better - all because of it."
That's when I knew he wasn't going to murder us in our sleep.
I'm not one of those YOLO fools who hurls my body off the face of a mountain for the thrill or jokes about screeching into the grave at 100 m.p.h. To me, that mindset is empty, purposeless.
Having a biker sleep in the barn wasn't really a risk. He had every same opportunity to harm us as the cars driving by on the highway at night. The risk was getting to know him. The risk was opening up our home- ourselves- to him. The risk was connecting with him. Since he didn't end up being an ax-murderer, I'd say we all walked away from the experience better from it. (Just jokes about the murderer part, mom.)
So, a few things happened last night:
1) We taught our children that strangers aren't bad.
I heard that collective gasp. We live in a society where really bad things happen, but in reality, those really bad things have always been happening. We are more suspicious and less trusting as a society (and I have my own theories as to why- namely, the media). We're also a lazy society. It takes work and vulnerability to connect with a stranger. It's a risk. I want my children to grow up knowing that interpersonal connections and relationships > personal comfort. (There's so much more to this lesson that could be a complete blog post somewhere else, like gut feelings, but I won't explore that today.)
2) I re-connected with risk-taking.
In the same vein, I have become lazy. I have walled-off myself from the outside world and become complacent in my relationships. It's easier to have personal comfort than to step outside that comfort zone and take a risk by allowing myself to be vulnerable. I can't tell you how many times I've been in a conversation or even just in passing with an acquaintance or friend and thought, "I should ask them how they're really doing." and never did for fear the conversation would become too much work or take up too much time. Even just the expression of honest gratitude has become a risk in our society. Or, honesty. Period. Anything outside of "Everything is Awesome!!!!" (You're welcome for that ear worm.)
Last night I blurted out, "I'm really glad you stopped by here." In my mind I was thinking, "Oh man... that was too much, too mushy, too emotional, too vulnerable, he's going to think I'm a freak, he's going to think I'm a ball of sap, he's going to think I'm on my period, I may as well have tears streaming down my face and grovelling at his feet."
And the cyclist said, "I'm really glad I did too. You just never know, do you?" And then he teared up.
And you really just don't ever know, but that's the risk. And 9 times out of 10, it turns out really great.
3) We were a blessing to someone and were blessed in return.
It was so simple: a meal, a place to sleep out of the wind, a warm shower. I can't speak for him, but he seemed very grateful. A home was opened up to him at a time when he was missing his own home very badly. A connection was made that added to his life experience and certainly added to our family's life experiences and learning.
I don't know about you, but I feel it
in my soul when these risk opportunities present themselves. Take the risk. Every time.