Dare is such an active word, evoking images of spinning bottles and alternatives to truth, of rush, of purpose, of flight, of doing. A dare is often fun and funny, loud and vibrant; it shouts from rooftops a will to do. But, what if dares can also be — not passive — but powerfully quiet? What if dare, for a day, decided that it was an introvert?
Dare to Read
In 1887 and the years that followed, the publication of Noli Me Tángere led to the imprisonment of at least one man, and indirectly — some speculate not entirely intentionally — catalysed a revolution. It was a dangerous but unarguably stimulating read. These days, page-flipping hardly seems like a high-risk activity, and placing a novel on the Banned Book list strikes me as counterintuitive, as it only makes people want to read it more. But reading remains so subtly forceful, and yet it is often overlooked for activities that require less commitment, such as crushing confectionery and epic battles between fauna and the undead.
Reading should never be a lost art. Read as often, as much, and as variedly as you can. Dare to read even those books that others have passed over. As Haruki Murakami wrote in Norwegian Wood, “If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.”
Dare to Think
Anagrammatically, I Dare You can also be Your Idea. That’s a happy coincidence, if there ever was one. We read to learn how things work, or how they could work, and also how they fail. Magic, or science, however you wish to see it, becomes greater when we take the amalgam of ideas from books and apply it to life. Think out of that overused box. Learn from anyone, learn from everyone.
Then learn how to filter.
Everyone starts out mimicking others — parents for what’s right and wrong, friends and faceless people from the Internet for what’s cool and uncool, books and journals for what’s scientifically sound and baloney (funny-sounding word). Ask yourself, why are things the way they are, and then ask, is there a better way? Everyone starts out with mimicry, but it is critical to learn how to think for yourself.
Dare to Believe
Early-onset jadedness seems to be a problem for our generation. It’s hard not to succumb, really. Morning news programs report the destruction of life and property by man and/or nature, while late night news replay senate hearings of corruption and unscrupulous magistrates and/or elected officials. Broken or physically separated families are the new normal. Swag is supposed to lend street cred. I doubt that anyone over twelve is still under the illusion that all is well in the world.
This makes it all the more necessary to believe. Believing in something means that you can stand for something. Standing for something means that you can effect change, maybe not in the entire country and not in an instant, but at least in your sphere of influence. Chances are, you will be disappointed and frustrated more than once. Believe anyway. That is why it is a difficult dare. Believe in God, believe in family, believe in yourself, believe in change and possibility.
Dare to Be Quiet
Quiet is underrated. Quiet is one of those things that I wish I were more of than I actually am, but I’m working on it. Quiet means an absence of noise, but never an absence of thought. Quiet people tend to notice details more, and get into trouble less. Quiet people listen better. Quiet allows you time to read, think, pray, be. Those things are important, yes? And yet, it’s so hard for a lot of people to keep silent and sit still. Why is that?
I used to put such a premium on achievement, particularly on maximal achievement in minimal time. See, I have the tendency to live my life from point A to point B. That is, I power through from one life goal to another. The gaps in between I filled with books and movies. Often it meant I was too consumed in a task, sometimes it meant I wasn’t always there, and sometimes it meant that I kept waiting for something to happen. I don’t think it’s the best way to live, but it was the way I knew how. At one point, things started to feel too mechanical, overwhelming, and uninspired. I made more self-negating choices than usual. That was when I made the decision to pause, aka the time I decided to preserve my sanity. I have, for the most part, been glad that I did.
Even the best laid blueprints can go awry, and that’s normal. Life changes people, and people change plans. I am a firm advocate of taking the time to reassess your self, your values, and your goals. This takes a different kind of courage. There will be an opportunity cost — peers may or will get ahead of you in the game. Remember two things, though:
- It doesn’t have to be a race.
- Pause, but don’t stop.
Dare to Grow
As crucial as taking stock of the situation is, it is equally important not to be paralysed by fear or complacency. Reconfigure, experiment, adjust, execute, and repeat. It’s rarely a linear process, and all the pauses are equally important as the proceedings.
Dare to be quiet, though it may be unfamiliar.
Dare to be brave in your choices.
Dare to be.Over.