Hold On to the Arrogance of Youth

When I was a kid, I talked my little brother into going around the neighborhood with me knocking on doors and offering to sing a Christmas carol for a tip. It could be any song the person wanted to hear as long as we knew it, and I think they could tip in any amount. My brother and I were not exactly excellent singers and our repertoire was limited, to say the least. What on earth made me think anyone would want to stand in the doorway with the brisk December wind curling around their toes and listen to us mess up the lyrics to their favorite holiday song?

When I got a bit older, I took a Red Cross babysitting course and thought I knew everything there was to know about watching little kids. I accepted my first official job at age 11. I took it as a matter of pride to figure things out on my own as often as possible before calling my mother. And most of the time, I improvised just fine.

By the time I reached high school, though, like everyone else, I started to hide some of my talents in an effort to blend in. I was still courageous enough to put myself out there a bit, starring in a play or allowing my teachers to read my writing to the class. But even though outwardly I held back, inside I still believed I might one day do great things. “Someday,” I thought, “I will show them all.”

Eventually, for most of us, life steps in. We start working just to pay the bills. We put our kids first. We convince ourselves we’re too tired or important or respectable to be daring.

What if we could hold on to the arrogance of youth? What if we went through our lives believing what they told us in Sunday School; that we are unique and special. What if we never gave up on our dreams, no matter how silly they seem? What if we risked ridicule once in a while, or tried to get better at something we love, or trusted what was in our bank account was enough? What if we stopped believing big things are not worth doing unless they change the world, and just believed they’re worth doing if they change us.

What if we trusted that a few people would not only hold the door open in the cold and listen to our heartfelt singing, but would clap for us when we finished and put a dollar in our jar? What if just putting a smile on their face and ours was enough to make us brave?

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