And So, in Conclusion…

by stephancox

I want to kick this post off, my last, by thanking each and every one of you for your incredible support. Yes, you, I’m talking to you. As I said at the beginning of this (basically insane) project, part of the reason I chose to blog about it was because even if I failed at something, I’d still have you to come crying to with a good story. I hope I held up my end of the bargain. I know you did.

It’s been a helluva ride. I pushed myself way further than I thought I could. I won some, I lost some, but overall, I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished. I ran a freaking marathon. I did improv. In New York. Where, you know, they take you out and beat the shit out of you if you suck. I did a triathlon, and I’m doing more this year. I traveled abroad by myself, and in so doing had one of the greatest experiences of my life. I went skiing, and I endured a Zen retreat. Check, check, and check.

Did I get to everything on the list? Nope. Ultimately, I think I got to a little over fifty percent, after I factor in a few things: I didn’t get around to doing standup, but, as Lori reminds me, I’ve done it before, very briefly, when hosting a rather small comedy show in front of a crowd of mostly friends a few years back. Not the same as starting from scratch and going out in front of a room full of hostile, drunk strangers, but in any case, I’ll give myself a C and call it done.

I did do an intensive couple of months of French language tutoring, and while I’m not fluent, I’m certainly capable of carrying on a conversation, provided it doesn’t involve too much metaphor or future-perfect-tense usage. Grade: B. I’ll be continuing this one. In fact, it’s my dream to some day go live in France for a time and study French cooking. Ooh la la!

And “Ulysses.” Boy, oh boy. I’m about a hundred pages from the end. Probably I’ll finish it in the next couple weeks. I won’t blog about it when I do, because what am I going to do, give you a book report? Suffice it to say that I get what all the hoopla is about—it’s a monster. It’s compelling, confounding, and a lot of other words. Lots and lots of words. Strung together in ways that are alternately dazzling, inscrutable, and frustrating. But worth it. Grade: Incomplete.

As for the rest of it? Well, my plan was to go out with a bang and finally do the skydive. I scheduled it and was all set to go, again psyching myself up mentally to override every instinct in my body in preparation for jumping out of a perfectly good plane, and then Lori stepped in and put the kibosh on it. In her words, she invoked the “dead mom” clause. She said, basically, that because she lost her mom in 2003 and it was, understandably, the single most painful experience of her life, she wasn’t willing to risk going through losing someone again simply because that someone wanted to electively do something really insane like jumping out of a plane in order to complete an arbitrary list of dares he made for himself on the internet. Fair enough.

And, ultimately, I think I’ve faced down plenty of things that were previously frightening enough to see that I have power where I didn’t think I did. To be honest, you guys, I was afraid I wouldn’t know how to make it through losing our dog. I know it sounds silly, but that dog was indescribably special to me. He was my constant companion, my little clown, my protector, my ward. I couldn’t see going a single day without him in this world. But we had to say goodbye, and I found a way to get through it.

We all have power where we fear we don’t. That’s what I’ve learned here. Fear, for want of a better word, is a motherf*cker. Those of you who struggle with it know that it can paralyze. It can collapse your whole world, can make it so small that it caves in on itself, until eventually, you’re living no life at all. So you fight back. You fight back with everything you’ve got. It’s an ongoing process. I feel fear, sometimes great fear, every time I step in front of a microphone to do my job (as a voiceover actor, my profession—did I mention?). And chances are, I’ll continue to feel fear, constant fear, in one degree or other, for the rest of my life.

But I didn’t embark on this journey thinking I could change that; I knew instinctively that I couldn’t. That for better or for worse, fear is my passenger. But by undertaking these series of dares and activities, I’ve done something almost as good. I’ve grown larger than my fear. I’ve taught it to sit quietly and observe while I go and do whatever the hell I please. Yes, this blog began as something of a goof, but in the end, it’s produced something profound: to face one’s fears is to be alive.

And so, this may be the finale for this little project, but it’s certainly not the end, not by a long shot. Because it’s not about ticking items off a list. There’s always gonna be shit that scares me. And I’m going to do it all anyway.

Love and gratitude to each of you, and Happy New Year to you and yours!

–Stephan

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