I have been called crazy many times, but it’s not true. I am of sound mind. I might be edgy yes, but crazy, no. I have done a lot of things in life, dangerous things, but the risks were calculated. I went in prepared, half scared, half excited. I came out each time bruised but not broken. In fact, I’ve never broken a bone. I’ve cracked a few, torn some cartilage, pulled many muscles, but I’ve never been hospitalized. I will win most scarred contests. I have 28 beauties and counting. I credit my many near misses to long list of scare stories.
My grandparents were great at these, ran through the whole family. My dad was especially good at them. My first twenty-five years of life was spent on a farm around a ton of equipment and livestock that could kill you. Many of our friends had missing fingers, toes, arms, and legs. Many didn’t survive. Crushed by a tractor, drowned in a manure pit, head blow off by a riser under to much pressure, many accidents in heavy fog. Men crushed under a load of peaches, men made into hamburger by a PTO shaft, loggers done for by snapping cables. ATV roll overs, chemical poisonings, electrocutions, propane explosions, bull gorings. It was, and is, a dangerous vocation.
From an early age I heard these stories, and they kept me safe. I can’t tell you how many times we drove over this bridge near our house and my dad would tell me of his high school classmate that jumped off into shallow water and spent the rest of his life in a wheel chair. I love to cliff and bridge jump. I do it all the time. The stories don’t stop me, but they make me double-check, triple-check, make for sure that it’s deep enough, every time, 100% of the time.
One of the many beautiful things about ManAlive is that we’re doing life right in the middle of a bunch of brutal scare stories. There are successes every where, so beautiful they will make you cry. But there are failures too, costly mistakes. When they happen, we all learn. When you are doing life with other men, sitting in a small group, hearing the stories, the good, the bad, and the ugly, you learn. Someone else’s stupid makes you smart. You feel the severity of the consequences of an affair, the cost of dishonesty, the destruction of passivity, anger, sin, haste, procrastination, unforgiveness, fear, lack of discipline. When you see the effects, it wakes you up. It helps you make correct decisions. Scare stories make you wise.
You only get to hear these stories when you are in relationship. When you are connected and invested, you feel their pain. It’s not just some news article you read. You’re involved, and it sears your memory. A wise man has many counselors, so get deep into relationship. Let them love you, heal you, teach you, and protect you. Don’t be afraid of the scare stories. Look for them, embrace them, and let them help you live both humble and human.