Fear is a terrible friend. Keeps us up at night. Seems to call at weird times. Doesn’t care if we are too busy or too sad. Prevents us from making any good decisions during the day. CONSTANTLY TALKS OVER US. What if? Have you heard? What about? Did you read this article?
When we are stuck at home, separate from the routines and rhythms that keep us grounded, trapped with fear as our steady companion, I cling to an important lesson I learned during a particularly horrible week.
I remember it vividly.
I went from a medical hellscape—an unrelenting gauntlet of drama the likes of which I never want to see again—to a research trip. Now, as a super-nerd academic, this trip would normally be a welcome distraction, but I couldn’t shake the impending doom. How could I research the number of megachurches with the words “Winner” “Victory” and “Life” in the name when all I could think about was how afraid I am?
But I took an approach on that trip that taught me a really important lesson. And here it is:
You can find incredible peace and joy when you discover you are doing something for NO REASON AT ALL.
Did I help skin an elk for an indigenous studies class? Yes! I did skin an elk! (Lots of strong shoulder work.)
Did I go visit the World’s Largest Ukrainian Sausage? I sure did!
I learned how to make schpritzel-something-rathers because my old college roommate is obsessed with German cookie making. And I watched a soloist hammer out the chords on her guitar like she didn’t care if any person on any planet wanted to follow her on Twitter.
I have always said that I don’t have hobbies, I have friends. And maybe I don’t need to be whittling much on the side. But I do need to cultivate a habit that my friends have already figured out: trying feels so good.
Every day is full of hard choices. We must do hard things. Give all we can. Love all the people we can. But then, as we are running dry….then what?
When there is not much we can control, why not try something which is absolutely for no reason.
When the stakes are so low, it becomes all about you and the beautiful stupidity of caring.
I have a bunch of really garbage art that I picked up from thrift shops. So what could be better than painting monsters into the background? Nothing. Nothing could be better.
Do I still know all the words to MC Hammer’s “You Can’t Touch This” in French? Yes I do. Should I perform them over FaceTime to unsuspecting friends? WHO CAN STOP ME?
My friend Will was recently found in his garage using a saw to cut out a wooden snake. Because he decided the house was missing something: wooden snakes.
So maybe today, you need permission to do something for no reason whatsoever.
Bake the cookies your great aunt used to make… even if they don’t turn out perfectly. Read a poem out loud with a fake Swedish accent.
Lay in the grass and form cloud animals or dream up new constellations. Challenge your kid to a LEGO competition. Take up whittling or learn to cross stitch an inappropriate saying onto a pillow. Take whistling lessons from YouTube.
Because even when fear threatens to swallow us whole, we will not be consumed. Ask yourself, what is possible today? Then do the thing… for no reason whatsoever.
How did it feel to try?
I’d love to know.