There is this voice that often shows up in the back my mind whenever I’m about to do something the slightest bit risky, whether it’s on a bike, my skateboard, sleeping outside in cold temperatures, getting on a plane to go somewhere new, this voice ever so faint telling me “don’t do it.” I immediately question the voice, “but this is what I want, plus it’s going to be fun” as the voice sends its rebuttals with “you could get hurt, sick, you might die!”
When I found myself on the ground a few weeks ago, clutching my ribcage, searching for the oxygen that once occupied my lungs I heard the voice, “I told you, now look.” The voice is my grandmother, after decades of her assuring that what my brother and I were doing was foolish, or crazy, or dangerous and likely to get us killed her voice has stuck ever so slightly.
In my grandmothers defense she inherited two teenage boys with a healthy appetite for mischief and marijuana when she should have been enjoying her golden years with friends on the golf course or playing bridge. Her tolerance for our bullshit should automatically qualify her for sainthood, with trips home in police cars, 3 day skateboard binges with hardly a phone call of where we were and what we were doing, out all night, sleeping all day and when we finally woke up she’d ask if we were hungry. When you’re 15 and every day seems like a lifetime you don’t really pick up on the subtleties of how lucky you are. I’m pretty sure that 95 percent of the world would have sent us packing after one week of the nonsense, but there we were.
Eventually I leveled out to an acceptable human being and got through high school with out too many mishaps, and found myself taking college classes looking to be part of the fabric of society. My grandmother continued to warn me of all the ills of the world and wondered if I was safe living in the city and riding my bike, assuring me “you’re gonna get killed on that thing” While that may be true I started to realize that my grandmother’s inherent fear of just about everything had kept her from doing a lot of living.
My grandmother is now in her 80s and she has never flown on a plane, never left the country except for a drive across the Canadian border, and has lived on the same street her whole life. As someone who is constantly looking for or planning the next trip, it baffles me that she can know that there is this amazing world out there and still have no interest in seeing it. I wonder sometimes if that deep down she really does want to travel but is too afraid of the unknown.
This year has been a strange one for me as I’ve slowly started to do the one thing that I want to do, I’m out making photographs, writing, traveling to races and I have made a few dollars this year doing it. People have trusted me to shoot their weddings, content for their websites and magazines and every one of those ventures has been terrifying. I am terrified because the thought of blowing it and ruining a chance to do more of this is overwhelming.
I woke up last night and thought of my grandmother and wondered if it wasn’t her voice that I hear when I hesitate to send an email asking for work or when someone is interested in one of my photos for their brand and I am afraid to ask them for money in fear that they’ll say no. I love my grandmother, she is a key player in saving me from myself but I also know that I have to block out a bit of that fear she instilled in me. Sure I’m gonna fall down every now and then, but if I have learned anything from cycling and skateboarding it’s that falling down is part of it, it’s part of progressing and growing. So here’s to throwing myself at life, hitting the ground and getting back up to do it over and over again until I stick it.