Have you ever been asked, "Are you a risk-taker?" If so, what was your answer?
My answer is, "That depends on what you consider a risk."
Look at the photo. Know what it's of? A sidewalk, a tree or two, a farmhouse... Yes, doesn't look very risky. But then when we find out one of the bloodiest battles in American history happened here at Gettysburg, and people risked everything for their beliefs and the dream of freedom, it becomes much more.
I watched the movie Selma tonight because one of my friends, actress Elizabeth Diane Wells, had a part in it. That movie blew my mind by bringing to life the dream of freedom, equality, and the right to vote-- and the risks people took to change society.
When people ask me whether I take risks, yes. Am I a risk-taker? Yes. I'm willing to fail, to put it all on the line for the chance to succeed. I want to make a difference in the lives around me too. But I'm grateful to remember the lives lost as we go into this Memorial Day. Lives of people who gave me the opportunity to take risks with my talent, such a puny thing compared to what those risk-taking heroes did to free people, get the vote, change the world!
I'm a writer who loves story telling. I love research and travel and people. I love freedom and equality and opportunity. If I don't take risks to exercise my rights, use my talents, I'm disrespecting what was fought for as our country battled to bring equality to men and women over the centuries.
I take risks when I send a proposal that can be rejected. I take risks when I'm vulnerable whether writing a book, a movie, or speaking from a stage. But I'm not willing to throw away the chance to see my dreams happen. Too many other people died or struggled to make my life here and now possible. To fear a "no" compared to the sacrifices given so I could simply try? I can't fathom what it would be like to say to one of those heroes, "Um, no, I was too afraid to show anyone my story. They might not like it. What if they said no?" I picture the stunned disbelief on those heroic faces and push into the opportunity. I can't let down those who went before me.
Are you willing to take a risk? To seize the opportunity with respect for what others have done and given so we could have the chance to reach for our dreams--and maybe change society through our writing?
Put a date on sending your proposal. Go ahead and take the class you've wanted. Try self-publishing or painting or auditioning. So what if you hear "no". You won't regret taking the risk, but you will regret a risk not taken.