Daring Adventure Or Nothing
An Inspiring Story
Helen Keller lived a remarkable life. Born in 1880, at nineteen months old she contracted an illness, possibly scarlet fever or meningitis, which left her deaf and blind. Shortly before Helen’s seventh birthday, Annie Sullivan, a twenty year old who was visually impaired, became her teacher. It began a forty-nine year relationship that moved in stages from teacher to governess to companion.
The story of how Annie Sullivan proceeded to break down the barriers that blocked communication is fascinating. Others viewed it impossible, but Annie set about the task with a mixture of empathy and perseverance that also included creativity and unique teaching techniques. Annie’s efforts combined with Helen’s determination and innate intelligence allowed the little girl to blossom into a brilliant student. Her triumph over the dark and silent isolation ought to inspire us right down to our socks; it is depicted in the play and film, The Miracle Worker.
Keller enrolled in Radcliffe College in 1900, graduated in 1904 to become the first deaf and blind person ever to earn a BA. She went on to be a world-famous author, political activist and lecturer. In her travels she rubbed shoulders and became friends with many famous figures including Alexander Graham Bell, Charlie Chaplin and Mark Twain. She met every U.S. President from Grover Cleveland to Lyndon Johnson. Her accomplishments were quite incredible for anyone, but are all the more extraordinary given the obstacles that had to be overcome.
When she passed away in 1968, Helen Keller’s legacy included twelve published books along with articles and essays. Given the context of her life, one particular quote is inspirational: “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”
Freedom To Choose
Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. Indeed. Life really is all about choices. We have the freedom to choose daring adventure or nothing. Our short span of time on the rock of planet earth is shaped by decisions, active or passive, made at all the little and big crossroads. What we do or do not do does not just happen by random chance; we are always in the mix of how our lives play out.
We choose to be hog-tied by the ropes of boredom and weariness or we can break loose to ask questions that energize us. Circumstances or situations can defeat us or we can continually rise above them to explore the marvel and mystery of life. We possess the ability to determine whether we accept nothingness or personify passionate living.
Seize Each Day
Fear of risk or failure causes us to exchange zeal for comfort and security. We play it safe and live accidentally, not deliberately. Unfortunately, Christians are notorious for staying inside a nice safe box. We cut ourselves off from possibilities because we settle for physical, emotional and intellectual ease.
It is a near-crazy approach for disciples to model for the world at large. How can those who claim to be Christ-followers even entertain a flat-earth mindset where great chances are never taken and new endeavors are never broached. Should we be cautious? Yes. Discerning, yes. Prayerful, yes.
However, we serve the Creator of the universe who sent his only Son to give us life, so if anyone ought to demonstrate passion for life itself, it should be us. We need to be willing to try different activities, searching for knowledge and wisdom every step of the way. Our caution, discerning and prayer must produce an attitude which seizes each day with a vibrancy that is rabidly infectious.
A note about discernment: It can only be honed by putting it to work, so we must think, read, study, watch films, discuss, debate, make inquiries and listen to a diversity of voices in our culture.
Does anyone think that Peter, Paul or any of the other disciples lived accidentally or were mere observers?
Even a cursory reading of the accounts of their lives reveals that for them life was a daring adventure full of intensity and fervor. They grabbed hold of moments and made them matter; they pushed the envelope for change while recognizing that the journey was the destination.
Those first-century heroes did not sit in church pews week after week, preserving the status quo, making dubious observations or scoffing at fresh approaches. No, they fully participated in the dynamic process that transformed their world.
It is my contention that modern-day disciples have the same requirement to engage our culture with enthusiasm and vision, experiencing life to the fullest. The poet and playwright George Bernard Shaw penned some words that should be every believer’s maxim: “You see things; and you say, ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were; and I say, ‘Why not?’”
The choice really is ours to make: Live passionately ever after or sink into ruts of nothing.
- Wanted Man
Wanted Man a.k.a. Ken R. Abell, seeks to be a blessing to others. He's a rake, a rambler, and a teller of tales who understands that there is strength in a story well told and well lived. To learn more, inquire or schedule him, visit this web site.
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