When I look back on my life and attempt to decipher the miraculous way it has interwoven itself to this point I see nothing I would change. The moments of misery that had me on my knees, begging for release, are the greatest gifts I own. Would I want to relive those epiphanies again? I would rather crawl naked up Mount Everest on broken glass, so the answer is a resounding no. It does however go to show just how powerful a true lesson can be. Knowing what we must avoid can sometimes be much more valuable than focusing on what we want to align with.

Almost all of my misery came from the habit of repetition. Einstein said “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.” My insanity was compounded by the idea that if I repeated myself enough, I’d create better results. Funny thing was, I did manage (just barely) to do just that. Almost died because of it though, so please, try to put on the brakes a little earlier that I did. Once I finally started moving out of my spiraling decay, I found a way to embrace life I had never considered before. Death was so close at one point. The sunset of my life had almost turned my entire world black. Only a matter of weeks were left for me, and I made one last attempt at redemption. With nothing left to lose, I decided on an action I had avoided all my life based mostly on a fear of the unknown. I decided to start taking chances.

A sure thing is by no means a guarantee of reward. All it promises is a life without surprises, challenges, or excitement. When the future is somewhat foreseeable, be it good or bad, a process of planned response becomes embedded in our programming. Every day is dull and predictable. There is a need for predictability in our lives or we couldn’t function, but it’s the moments of the unexpected that always lead to the memories we cherish the most. Without these forks in the road we have no signposts pointing to what might be either a more beneficial path or one better avoided. Life is meant to be an adventure. Those who have made history, those we’ve read about and remember the most, are the ones who–when a new path that looked interesting opened up–took it without hesitation. Reward comes not just with risk but sacrifice of the self. The willingness to leave old ideas, old habits, and old pursuits behind is what frees us to move faster and freer towards a better tomorrow.

I’ve never taken a chance I’ve come to regret. It’s happened so much over the years that I actively seek new situations. I’m picky about them, but I choose many nonetheless. On the other hand there have been countless times where I’ve avoided taking a chance and have come to regret it, though the days of doing this are long behind me.

I believe life is lived better without ever asking “what if?” I don’t give myself permission to wonder what might have happened anymore. Do fear and caution accompany many such endeavors? Absolutely, but it’s always temporary. The anguish of knowing I missed out on a better opportunity has the potential to last an entire lifetime. Feelings such as these are the foundation of stagnation and remorse.

Please, whatever you dare to conceive, whatever you think is impossible, whatever seems hopeless, you must take a chance. No more wondering if you have the potential, no more wondering if you have the fortitude, no more wondering what others will think, and no more wondering how things could have been. If all of us were to step into our dreams and carry them forward into reality, this world would be the paradise only envisioned in literature. The proof that this is true is that paradise exists already for those who live in a world of chance. It’s too bad they stand out so prominently. I intend to be one of them.

With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

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