I believe in getting out there and getting dirty. I believe in life as a learning experience, and I believe its okay to make mistakes. What I truly believe in is getting out there and experiencing life firsthand. I believe in scratches, bruises, and the occasional ripped pair of jeans. I believe that you will never know what you are capable of if you don’t get out there and try. Now mothers, you can uncover the ears of your children, I am by no means advocating a reckless existence. I believe not in seeking out risk but rather not being afraid of it. I stand for not letting it control the way in which I live my life. I believe in climbing mountains, in looking under rocks, or even exploring your own backyard. I believe in seeing new things with your own eyes and experiencing the cool breeze across your face.
I believe in the value of independence and personal experiences. However, I also believe that when someone tells you “someday you will thank me” or that “you will understand when you are older,” sometimes they actually mean it. Growing up, in one of those “it’s for your own good” moments, my parents limited the time that my younger sister and I were allowed in front of the TV or playing video games. At the time it was a clear violation of my childhood and I remember arguing upon the “fairness” of this oppressive measure. Yet I never seemed to win that argument, especially when faced with the end-all “well sometimes the world just isn’t always fair, so you might as well get used to it.” So I splurged on video games when I spent the night at a friend’s house, and continued to resist the shackles of parental oversight. Now, I played video games and watched cartoons like every other kid, but I was forced to find more creative ways in which to occupy my time as well. This meant spending much of my childhood building forts in abandoned lots or exploring the desert of southern Utah, then climbing trees and setting up hideouts in the backyard pine trees of our Colorado home. Looking back, this is what I can never thank my parents enough for. So I grew up always wearing my bicycle helmet and making sure my parents knew where I was and that I was home by dinner. But much more importantly, I spent my childhood living and learning through my own experiences.
So I say embrace the scrapes and climb that tree, grab the handlebars of a bike and a friend over that wireless controller and set off into the wide world of the little creek around the bend or the horizon of that next cul-de-sac. Test the limits, test yourself, and most importantly: have fun! Look both ways before you cross the street but don’t let the cars keep you from uncovering the secrets that lie on the other side.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.