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Daring Adventure Or Nothing

Updated on July 20, 2013
Helen Keller & Annie Sullivan during lecture tour in 1920.
Helen Keller & Annie Sullivan during lecture tour in 1920.

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.”

The rock of planet earth, where we make choices & decisions that shape our lives.
The rock of planet earth, where we make choices & decisions that shape our lives.

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.

Christians are not supposed to remain boxed up in the sanctuary.
Christians are not supposed to remain boxed up in the sanctuary.

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.

Why Not?

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.


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    • Ken R. Abell profile imageAUTHOR

      Ken R. Abell 

      5 years ago from ON THE ROAD

      shampa sadhya - Thank you. I appreciate your words & affirmation.

    • shampa sadhya profile image

      Shampa Sadhya 

      5 years ago from NEW DELHI, INDIA

      Voted up, useful and interesting!

      I like the way you presented a great personality. People need to know about these greats and their will power. May be then the society would change for the better! Pinning, sharing and also sharing this article in the Forum 'Recommend another Hubbers Hub'.

    • Ken R. Abell profile imageAUTHOR

      Ken R. Abell 

      5 years ago from ON THE ROAD

      Kenja - Thank you for sharing. Love that quote from Keller. Blessings.

    • Kenja profile image

      Ken Taub 

      5 years ago from Long Island, NY

      One of my favorite people Ken, and my favorite quote, which in its entirety is even more beautiful: "Security is mostly superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing." Helen Keller

      I like the idea of courageous Christians (Jews, Muslims, and Hindus too). Heck, if more people were as brave, life-affirming and faithful to their own creed as Helen, we'd all be much better off, yes?

      Good post, and Happy Holidays. cheers, Ken

    • Ken R. Abell profile imageAUTHOR

      Ken R. Abell 

      8 years ago from ON THE ROAD

      Cathi - Thank you for stopping in & sharing. Glad you were refreshed. Peace & blessings to you.

    • Cathi Sutton profile image

      Cathi Sutton 

      8 years ago

      I was surprised, and refreshed by this Hub. Your voice is so strong, and somehow sounds familiar. I wish I had found it sooner.

    • Ken R. Abell profile imageAUTHOR

      Ken R. Abell 

      9 years ago from ON THE ROAD

      Thank you to sandwichmom & pastorkat4.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Powerful! Ken, that's all I can say. Powerful!

    • sandwichmom profile image


      9 years ago from Arkansas

      I always enjoy your writing!

    • Ken R. Abell profile imageAUTHOR

      Ken R. Abell 

      9 years ago from ON THE ROAD

      Thank you, DeBorrah.

    • DeBorrah K. Ogans profile image

      DeBorrah K Ogans 

      9 years ago

      Ken R. Abell

      Wonderful hub!

      I have always found the story of Helen Keller fascinating!

      it leaves no room for excuse to accomplish whatever God has created us for! as you say "Seize each day!"


    • Ken R. Abell profile imageAUTHOR

      Ken R. Abell 

      9 years ago from ON THE ROAD

      Thanks, HammerJammer.

    • Hmrjmr1 profile image


      9 years ago from Georgia, USA

      Rock on man Great Hub!


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