I originally wrote the essay below in 2017. Some of the things I said I would do if I wasn’t afraid I’ve started doing and I’ve become afraid of other DUMB THINGS. We are allowed to change, so I updated the essay. Here are some things I’d do if I weren’t afraid, circa 2020.
I’d sell my stuff, buy an RV, and spend a year driving the land. I’d pick up hitchhikers and linger in forgotten towns with forgotten people and pass out coffee and hugs on street corners. I’d wait tables and pull draft beer, glean in fields, dig fence posts and be a camp host. I’d do blistering work, the work of dirty hands and broken nails, the work of sweat and sunburns and calluses.
If I wasn’t afraid I’d write about important things like abortion and politics, mass incarceration and the death penalty, guns and immigration, the church and the bullshitty and beautiful things that happen when people gather in the name of Jesus.
I’d get off the couch and into the game – register voters, protest and march, use my voice and my feet to expose what the Bad Suits are doing, where the system is broken and I’d work hard to fix it. I’d fight for justice and equality and bras that do their job without suffocating you.
If I wasn’t afraid I’d audition for a play, one where my character cries or dies or is a complete nut case. I’d learn hip-hop and do stand up comedy that made you laugh and cry and think about things you would do if you weren’t afraid. I’d learn how to duel and break a board with my fist and I’d write long essays and tight poems and submit them to magazines and newspapers, or at least email them to my friends.
If I wasn’t afraid I’d throw parties for people who are enemies with each other and pass out wine and weed until they held each other and danced. I’d get commuters on the train to stop staring at screens and sing Bohemian Rhapsody together. I’d open a restaurant with only community tables where people could talk, tell their stories and be less afraid of each other, and a 24-hour drive-through soup stand because soup is needed at all hours on this planet. I’d open a bicycle library and bring books to the souls that live under bridges because everyone needs books.
If I wasn’t afraid I’d cut my hair short and let it go gray or dye it to suit my mood. Then I’d shave it all off and stop wearing makeup and burn the Spanx and smash the scale and the mirrors, except for a tiny one to check my teeth and pluck the pesky hairs, because no one wants to see a brave bearded lady.
If I wasn’t afraid I’d be wilder in bed, swim naked in the ocean and wear a bikini at the waterpark. I’d learn to snowboard and sing and surf and play the guitar. I’d climb Kilimanjaro and camp solo in the woods and also not do any of those things if I didn’t feel like it and takes naps instead because I wouldn’t be afraid if people thought I was a slacker.
If I wasn’t afraid I’d spend all the money. Sorry kids.
If I wasn’t afraid I’d tell you I hope God is love and it’s easier for me to believe that when I don’t read the bible or go to church. I’d tell you I love the Jesus of the bible and I believe in supernatural good and evil and I’m approaching my faith these days with a spirit of trust, tethering myself to the Jesus who loved and healed and fed and cooked breakfast for his friends. But also? Sometimes I wonder if we are living in the Matrix.
I’d tell you that if I wasn’t afraid.