One recent evening, I found myself in an unexpected scene. I was sitting in a tiny restaurant in Pahoa, Hawaii with 2 of my dearest, long-time friends. We sat in a state of suspended-animation, with our breaths held, listening to a native song of longing and loss. All 3 of us threatening to burst into emotional tears at any moment.
Auntie Emily's song was haunting and beautiful. She sang it as a memorial to my friend Jamie's dad, whom she had just learned had been killed in a tragic motorcycle accident. After the last note had faded, Jamie gave Aunt Emily a hug. "You know, my dad had really wanted to ask you out. I had told him you were single and he told me that he would do it. But, he was chicken-shit and never got up enough courage. He was still trying to work up the nerve when he was killed."
As my friends and I sat over our meals, I was struck with how strong a message this redneck phrase packs. How many times have we all gone chicken shit?
It's missed opportunity. Fear holding us back. Something that holds us back from the thresh-hold of what "could be". It's human nature that risk breeds fear of the unknown. But, without that risk, we cannot reap life's harvest.
Jim was a true character. A hard-riding, tough-talking rebel with a heart of unalloyed gold. No gathering was complete without a tale of Jim's antics. (How about a 70 year old man getting pulled over by an astonished cop for passing traffic while doing a motorcycle wheelie?) He was recently widowed by the passing his beloved Clara. But as life carries us forward, he started thinking about a future. Might that future include this strong Hawaiian woman? But, hesitation (read: chicken-shit) got the best of him. Now, a vibrant life cut short, with questions left unanswered.
I look to my friend Debi. A force-of-nature designer, she has spent several years auditioning for a well known designing show. Each year, she applies, auditions and dreams the dream. But, her dream has not been realized AS YET. But she knows that a rejection letter, while stinging, hurts a whole lot less that drowning your sorrows in a pint of Hagen-Das while screaming out at the TV "Hey I could do better than that... if I only had the guts to audition!"
Yes. I have been guilty of being a chicken-shit. But, the years (and grey hairs that I have seen in my mirror) have encouraged me to step up and take risk. It's allowed me to pour out my heart and soul into a piece, then submit it for judging. Yes, I have gotten a few of those stinging rejection letters, but I have also won ribbons and the occasional publication. I have stood outside more that a couple galleries, hyperventilating until I work up the courage and confidence to step inside and sell my work and talents. More often than not, the risk has paid off.
There is no gain without risk. There is no winning without some loss. And one of life's greatest lessons is to look it in the eyes... and not chicken-shit.
But... Bullshit. That, dear readers, is another post all together.
The incredibly beautiful final resting place of Jim and Clara.