Risk Takers Unanimous

Hello, my name is Stephen Bigger and I am a risk taker. (“Hello, Stephen). This habit has framed, defined, challenged, and enriched my life in ways I simply can not describe. I honestly can’t say that every risk has been the right choice; quite the contrary. I have made some terrible mistakes, the scars of which I will carry with me my entire life. One of my biggest disasters was incurred by my desire to prove God’s love is real, eternal, forgiving, and complete in my sheltered life. At the time, in my youthful mind it wasn’t enough to simply believe it, I needed to see it in action. I am still here to confirm that love is boundless and completely able to heal. And by the grace of God I am blessed.What does this have to do with you? Well, if you are tempted to take a risk from time to time, maybe even right this very minute- I encourage you to consider the benefits of reaching out and trying something you never dreamed possible before, especially if it is for a good cause. You might well say you do not see any opportunities to take a risk right now- don’t worry, if you keep your eyes open- your chance will come. Opportunities to make, no, BE a change only come around quite often (possibly several times a day) so don’t hesitate to take a risk, even if it doesn’t turn out exactly how you pictured it at the beginning. Guess what- nothing does. Everything turns out different than you imagine it will. But, if you try to do something positive, you can take that leap of faith and it will turn out all right.
Consider Owen Meaney (or Simon Birch if you didn’t read the book). Owen KNEW he had a purpose, even though he appeared less than normal, even abnormal. His constant searching, questioning, and risk-taking led him to open doors, uncover necessary truths, save a child’s life and fulfill his self-proclaimed destiny. Yes, yes- i know he was a fictional character, but so is every person- until you take a chance. A safe life is more imaginary than an effective one. Risking your comfort and safety to go where you have never gone, do what you’ve only dreamed is what life is all about.

Don’t simply dream- simply DO. Keep reaching out even if you can’t see the end from the beginning. Trust your destiny to be more than making it out of here alive, because nobody gets out alive. Stop trying to recreate the box, because the box is a fictional standard that is useless and boring. A “normal life” is, in my opinion the biggest myth ever told. It simply does not, can not exist.

Don’t be afraid of fear when you start out to create your opportunity. Everyone has fear- even those who are afraid they will not reach the peak of normalcy. Face fear- embrace the rain- you can only get so wet… and then you will learn it turns out you will dry out in the end either way.

Many of the people we have met on our trip are risk takers. They have no idea how their dreams will turn out. Lily, Malcolm, Wezzie, Trish, Phillipe, Pierre, Joseph, Richard, Mark, Ricardo, Jamie1a, Jamie1b and others have no guarantee their incredible efforts will come to fruition, but in my mind- these are superhumans doing miraculous work. Oh, you might well say “who are these people and what are they doing?”. Well… keep following this blog and their stories will unfold to you. I pray these heroes inspire you to do mighty things.

Just to whet your appetite, consider the situation of many of the folks who work at the Nkwichi Lodge, an eco-tourism haven for many who simply are not satisfied with laying around on a “pamper-me” vacation. Joseph and Richard, our guides, translators, diplomats, tech team members, friends, and compatriots on our Ncondesee Village trip walk a long, long way early in the morning and late at night (almost always in the dark) on a rocky trail to get to work from Mala Village. Their home villages are up to 7 hours walk one way so they moved to the closest village in order to work. They only get to go home to their families a few times per month at most. Some of the lodge staff walk 2 hours or more each way every day. When the rainy season hits, these amazing people have to ford streams in a downpour just to get to work. Sometimes they are unable to cross certain rivers and must turn around and go back home. Those days they go without pay. While many of us have had to commute in rush hour traffic, at least we are safe in our cars. We rarely have to avoid snakes, scorpions, crocodiles, leopards, angry baboons, rocky trails, and utter darkness on our way to work. If you are thinking maybe that sounds like more fun than you are having, perhaps a career change is in order for you… Another opportunity for risk, eh?

Choirmaster Mark took huge risks to give 4 months of his life to help the village choirs increase their skill.Photo

English teacher Trish comes from the UK and dedicates several months each year to train many of the staff to speak proper english.

Other staff members have contracted malaria and other viruses- and yet they tough it out to be working within their dreams and personal goals.

And don’t even get me started about Lily- who deserves a whole series of blogs and stories on her work with the Manda Wilderness Project. I’ll tell you more about her amazing story in another post soon. She is one of the most inspirational people I have ever met. But we are about to land in SF to complete our own version of an out-of-the-box story.

Today, I am grateful for the risks Beth and I took over the last few weeks. And it is only the beginning. Next time we go I vow to be in even better shape and go prepared to do more, see more, give more.Take a risk and be unanimously, rip-roaringously, unequivocally adventurous! You and the world will never be the same.


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