That title really has nothing to do with this post, other than the fact I attended the local county fair yesterday and watched their Motocross racing so I was pretty much surrounded by tobacco chewing, American rednecks, walking around with that arrogant swagger that makes their beer bellies jump around under their stained t-shirts. Fascinating people.
The Motocross was wonderful though. It reminded me of the hick version of a Canadian hockey game—lots of noise, pain, rednecks, and raw emotion.
I attended the fair because my car broke down on the way to work. It was very traumatizing. I hate sitting in the middle of the road by myself. But the up side of it all was that work let me off for the night, my car got rescued, and my friends invited me to go with them to the county fair instead.
And sitting there on the metal bleachers, watching the races, I started thinking about thrills. I mean, the guys flying through the air on those tiny pieces of mental must really get crazy thrills. I got thrills from just watching them and wincing when they crashed into piles of bike and body. As they loaded one rider into an ambulance, I thought of the young guy with the goatee and the tattoos who had to call me every time he needed to turn over or use a bedpan. I remembered him at that moment because he had ridden a bike too, before it smashed into pieces. I understood what those guys were risking.
Yet, at the same time, as stupid as it seemed, there was a certain element of raw nerve that appealed to me—that fascinated me with its refreshing idiocy. Mostly, I think, because it seems our culture is bent and determined to get the thrills without the guts and blood nowadays. You can buy an energy drink at two bucks a can for goodness sake. It could be argued that is the best route—safe thrills, you know. Why go out and risk life and limb for a rush when you can stay safe at home and play Call of Duty, read a passionate romance novel while munching on chocolate, or watch the football game?
Which makes me wonder whether life was meant to be safe or risky—smart or stupid? There are definitely times in life when we leave reckless immaturity for a deeper pursuit of life. But when do we cross the line from reality to fantasy. In fleeing to safe thrills do we not run out on courage, risk, and determination? Or are we just being smart?
Now, obviously, the risk those bikers were taking was rather senseless. No one was going to benefit from them tearing around the track and busting their brains to smithers. Yet, is there a chance that cultivating that kind of nerve in ourselves might go a long way in the earthy, damp everyday living of Christ-like lives?
Jesus lived in the very center of storms and angry crowds. He overthrew temples and cast out demons. He took more risk than any human in history.
And we read the latest inspirational bestseller, flirt with the cute guy in the youth group, and feel our dedication rise when we go to Wednesday night prayer meeting.
Our children learn to ride their bikes on the safe side of the road, play safe games, and choose secure occupations.
We are smart, artsy, intellectual, spiritual, funny, witty, and charming, rather than passionate, ruthless, brave, and risky.
We don’t bleed well.
We fight even worse.
And many times our relationships reflect our apathy. Forgiveness takes guts, love takes determination, vulnerability is a risky thrill, and humbleness is like jumping on a raging bull when you’ve never seen a cow.How can I expect to practice any of them if I’m all about being safe?
So if my future son ever gets up from his gameboy long enough to ask me, “Mom can I have a sheet to make a parachute? I want to jump off the shed roof.”, I’ll probably give it to him, and tell him to have fun. And then drag a mattress out to cushion his fall.