1. Meryl

    My best friend, in place of “be safe,” says “don’t do anything I wouldn’t do” with a very big wink. I think you’ve done some wonderfully brave things, and I look forward to hearing your future adventures (and maybe sharing one or two)!

  2. Zenaida

    I like repelling. Any time you’re ready to hang from a cliff face… 😉
    Here’s to living life to the fullest!

  3. leisurelyviking

    I sometimes take delight in profanity. One good thing about growing up Mormon was that there are all sorts of relatively harmless things I can feel rebellious about (like tea!).

  4. Molly

    @leisurelyviking — zomg that is so true. My friends get a total kick out of seeing me be thrilled at how edgy I think I am when I’m doing stuff they considered tame in high school.

  5. Melissa

    At the end of ‘Still Life with Woodpecker’, a book I was obsessed with when I was 19, it states that “it’s never too late to have a happy childhood.” And in some ways, childhood and adventure go together. So here’s to a happy childhood and adventure!

    (tomorrow…I’m too old today to be adventurous!) 😛

  6. Kevin

    Nietzsche’s call to live dangerously sent many young men into the trenches of WWI. While that danger might be a little extreme, the idea of pushing one’s comfort zones is a definite plus in my book :). Possibly cheesy philosophy quote: Become who you are, don’t just be who you are.

  7. I’ve thought a lot about this as I’ve traveled. I do feel vulnerable as a female alone, walking city streets with spendy electronic stuffs in my bag, and no idea how concerned I should be about my personal safety at any given moment. Several times this past week I’ve put myself completely in the hands of strangers (or near-strangers), trusting their good intentions. So far, so good.

    I think there’s also a difference between doing something just for the sake of feeling the thrill factor (like, say, bungee jumping) and doing something that’s risky because you are afraid of rejection (like sending your first novel to a publisher). I tend to take the latter kind of risks, though I do a bit of both.

  8. I read your wife’s blog and came over here. I have trouble with fear as well. Read this lately and thought I would share it with you.

    “Faced with such a choice, choose anxiety and ambiguity, for they are developmental always, while depression is regressive. Anxiety is an elixir and depression a sedative. The former keeps us on the edge of our life, and the latter in the sleep of childhood.” James Hollis.

  9. I’m not much of one for cliffs, or skydiving, etc. But I realized in my early twenties (after studying Nietzsche, Kevin), that if I wanted anything out of life, it was up to me to go get it. It took me another five or six years to take that first step. And that first step felt emotionally like what I’m thinking the first repelling step might feel like physically, but so far it’s been worth the risk.

  10. This reminds me of Joesph Cambpell talking about the hero’s path. It’s not always admired by society, and it’s often filled with danger and intrigue, but the rewards are great. It also brings to mind what a friend once told me. “May my way be lit by the bridges I burn.” I don’t know if I really endorse the last one, even if it is catchy.

  11. I have some mild-moderate social anxiety, and have an especial fear of rejection, so I can really identify with this post. I have gotten a lot better in the past couple years, and have become (relatively) far more adventurous. Being out of the closet has certainly been an adventure, though I think I’m pretty much used to it by now.

    I’ve come to know the value in new experiences, even if it’s hella scary.

  12. We have such an amazing community! One of the things that attracted me to this particular xkcd comic was the use of color: the safe, black and white world inside and the clinging-to-the-side-of-a-building world filled with color and possibility outside.

    Meryl—I often end up saying, “Don’t do anything I would!” and strive to be a bad influence on everyone I know (because I firmly believe that everyone needs a good bad influence in their life).

    Thank you all for the inspiring words 🙂

  13. Davis

    While I agree with you about stretching your limits and pushing your comfort zones, the lure of adventure in life is often vastly over-rated.

    I know a fair number of friends that have thrown away a great life because they felt like they were missing out on something and wanted to go and catch it.

    I myself have had an adventuring past. It was thrilling at times, but I missed out on some of the greatest things in life because of it.

    These days my philosophy follows this quote from the greatest explorer of all time:

    “Adventure is just bad planning.”
    Roald Amundsen

    It is great to be bold and explore, but in seeking what we think we have missed, we give up the great adventure that we are in the middle of.

  14. John

    Davis, obviously there are all kinds of ways to qualify my initial devotional post. And there’s risk in any decision, I suppose.

    I think my main point is that I’m coming from an approach to life governed greatly by fear, and I need to correct in the other direction. Just to pull one mundane example, if you hate your secure job as an accountant, you can: 1) keep plugging away until retirement; 2) quit suddenly w/o having another job to go to; or 3) commit to and create a business plan for that catering business you always wanted to run. Option 1 is fear-motivated, Option 2 is foolishness, and Option 3 requires overcoming fear of the unknown, the risk of total failure, but also the possibility of success if one approaches it a la Amundsen.

    –Who ate his dogs to reach the South Pole, by the way–something Scott wasn’t willing to do. Not judging that, just a meditation on what it takes to succeed, sometimes.

  15. John

    deb, that’s a helpful quote. I’m going to chew on that for a while. Thank you.

    Jana: swimming on the open water of the Pacific, miles from the closest shore? Sharks? Hundreds of feet of water below you? That’s some physically scary stuff!! 🙂

    leisurelyviking and Molly: sometimes I go for a double shot espresso. Or I drink enough of some legally-obtained alcohol to get tipsy and sleepy. 😉

  16. Paul

    “the one precious life that I do have.”

    Who’s to say you have only one life; who’s to say it is all that precious?

  17. John

    notentirely: thank you for the hug. It sounds like we both need this message, though I have to say that I often look to your example of living this life so fully.

    Paul, I’m speaking from my own personal experience here, which has lead me to those conclusions. It’s not my intent of this post to rationally debate the possibility of life beyond this one, but to express my personal struggle to overcome the fears that inhibit me from becoming my better self, right here, right now, in the context of my view of mortality.

    So, yeah, I say I have only one life, and I say that it (and the lives of all those I encounter) are indeed very precious to me, and it very much colors my personal experience of this one life and of my relationships with others in it.

  18. Paul

    You have an answer, then, for which I can only hope that, for you, your relationships, your experiences — your precious life — you also have fearless peace.

  19. John

    Paul, I don’t have fearless peace yet. But I’m working on it.

    But I do have greater peace of mind than I did as a Mormon, and a Christian, so I’d like to think I’m making some small progress. We’ll see.

  20. It occurred to me recently that I’ve become more fearful in the past few years. I think about all the scary things I’ve done in the past – finishing high school at the university, graduating at 15, moving several states away at 16, getting married at 19, choosing to have children right away, throwing away my college education to do something passionate, committing to a simpler life – and I honestly wonder if I would choose to do these things over again, if presented with the decision right now. I think I’d be too scared now. And all of my greatest fears come down to loss – losing my children, my partner, my livelihood, my commitments, my ethics, my friends, my health, my ideals. I’ve been thinking about how I can overcome this fear, how I can override that inimitable fear of loss to embrace life as fully and fearlessly as I once did. I feel like I’ve lost almost all of my self-confidence. But this post inspires me.

  21. Rainey


    I don’t know your story so I’m loathe to jump in with advice or commentary. All I’ve got is (((((((HUGS))))))) and the thought that surviving is sometimes the most fearless thing we can do for now. And there’s always tomorrow. ((((((((((MORE HUGS)))))))))))))

  22. Davis


    I see what you are saying. And I tend to agree for the most part. I suppose the one thing my early ‘adventures’ did teach me was not to fear govern my life too much.

    You are right about Amundsen, he did eat his dogs. What you didn’t mention was that was part of his plan all along. His men ate their dogs, and they fed dog to dogs. Scott never trusted polar traditions and thought Ponies and Men could haul better than dogs ever could. Unfortunately, that is what cost him his life.

  23. I like this post for me, today. I was just pondering this today as I look at my blank canvas–how I don’t allow myself the pleasure of creating the art I want to create sometimes. I have a feeling that I should only create art that is for someone else rather than the art I want to create for myself. Fear that I don’t deserve to be truly happy. Fear that I am not worthy to be the artist I want to become. Fear that I will try my dream of being an artist and failing miserably.

    I am trying to find a way to feel worthy to follow my bliss. Deep down I think I can do it. It’s scary as hell, though.

  24. Scurrilous J

    I see myself in that comic – unfortunately, I’m one of those drones at the computer. I am a capital-C Coward. I mean to break out, but then I realize the dishwasher needs to be unloaded. Yeah, I’m That Girl.

    I think I may have to start reading your blog on a regular basis – it’s a rare treat to enjoy the comments almosts as much as the blog itself.

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