|Me, author and weaver, Shayna Matthews, with my husband and heroes, John Rich and Big Kenny. |
They are the inspiration which ultimately drove me to follow my dreams of writing.
Don't be afraid to live out loud, my friends. When an opportunity rises, grab it by the throat and don't you dare let it go! We allow feeble excuses to contain us within a protective shell. Sometimes we fear crossing the boundaries of opportunity--after all, who knows what might be on the other side of a new idea, action or adventure. Far too often I have heard people say, "I don't know if I could ever do that," or, "why bother? What are the chances I might run away with..."(insert golden opportunity here). I know this to be true, because I've said them all before, myself. I've since learned my lesson.
When I discovered my heroes, Big & Rich, were hosting an essay contest, I very nearly fell into that trap. The grand prize? Four days, all expenses paid, in Pensacola, Florida for a private concert and the opportunity to meet with Big & Rich for the ultimate fan experience.
"Should I enter? What are the chances?" The date I discovered the contest happened to fall on our tenth anniversary. Being such a special day, we wondered if karma might be trying to tell us something. Is that a faint knock on the door of opportunity, I hear? So I answered the knock at the door and wrote the essay. They wanted a love story paired with the hows and whys of being a true fan, and they wanted it under 500 words. My first draft was 1500. It took me three days to pair the entry down to 499. Just one word short of the mark. Those 499 written words changed everything! When the big news came in, I was one of five grand prize winners...well, not even a writer's words can express the shock of that moment. Luckily, they made us videotape our initial reaction, so I at least have reference material.
Big & Rich sent my husband and I on an unbelievable journey to paradise, for the price of 499 words. I sit here, having only just returned, and still wonder if it was real, or merely a grand dream. A dream filled with blue waters, white sands, mermaids and cocktails, camera crews and new friends, grand music and lingering memories of the most vivid meeting of our large-as-life heroes.
Don't be afraid of opportunity. I don't care if you're afraid or just intimidated by the sheer scale of odds stacked against you. Those odds? Maybe they aren't quite as high as you picture them in your mind. Maybe. Little can be gained from the richness life has to offer without trying. If the opportunity passes, you will still have succeeded in trying your best. Revel in what life has to offer, and don't be afraid to try new things. Opportunity doesn't have to come knocking in the form of a contest. It could be anything. Travel? Try something new, something bold. During our extraordinary journey, my husband and I found the opportunity to go para sailing. We took it, despite my fear of heights, and I'm so glad we did. What an unbelievable experience! Sailing five hundred feet in the air over the Gulf, the boat so tiny we could barely see the crew. It was terrifying. Exhilarating. Unbelievably fantastic...one of those adventures where you walk away on slightly quaking legs, having accomplished a feat for the writing of your own personal history book. That's what life is, a personalized history book, and only you can fill in the pages. Might as well make them memorable...just watch the word count.