“The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure.”
–Joseph Campbell

Today isn’t going to be a easy day for a lot of people.

If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go a little off the cuff right now. These words flew out of me this morning, and when they did, I felt compelled to share them here. After all, GiveLiveExplore wouldn’t exist, and I wouldn’t be writing to you and entering your inbox right now, if it weren’t for what I’m about to say.

Today isn’t going to be an easy day.

I think about Shannon constantly. But especially today. Everything that has happened to me over the past two years, all of my new experiences, wild adventures, and unconventional undertakings — I owe them all to Shannon.

You see, Shannon helped me realize that life is brief. Which is silly when you think about it. Isn’t this something we all should know by now? We’re constantly reminded of it — in quotes, in books, in movies, and in our own lives. I believe it was Benjamin Franklin who famously said, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Death is certain. We should get it by now.

Yet we don’t get it. And obviously I didn’t get it.

But then something happens. Something smacks you in the face, spits in your soup, and steals your girl. Something kicks your ass. And it does it with alarming indifference.

After you finish sopping up the blood and dumping out your soup, you suddenly find yourself sitting in the silence. You’re sitting alone in the abyss, in an empty space. And you realize that that same something that kicked your ass also gave you a great gift. You don’t understand the gift, but you can feel it, and you know it’s there. In that empty space, something calls out to you and offers up a challenge. The challenge feels something like an adventure. And it’s hinted that if you go on this adventure, you’ll be presented with the possibility for a huge shift to occur. Do you go? Do you stay? How you choose to answer that challenge is up to you. But the challenge is yours for the taking.

For me, it was Shannon who kicked my ass. Two years ago today, Shannon grabbed me by the collar and shook me violently until it was drilled into my head: LIFE IS BRIEF.

And then I looked around and found myself inside the abyss. Suddenly all of the motions I’d been taking through life didn’t seem to matter much. In that space, I found myself observing my own particular life with a frightening impartiality, yet with an intense curiosity: Why is this guy holding back? Doesn’t he hear the music pent up inside him, aching to be belted out? What the hell is he waiting for?

In that space, I was presented with the challenge. I can’t tell if it was Shannon presenting it herself, but I’m certain she was behind it. Shannon challenged me to take a fiercer approach to living with all of the energy I had inside me.

I like to think I took the challenge. Still today, I try to continue to take the challenge when it’s offered. And it’s offered constantly.

But then a week passes. A day goes by. Hell, sometimes it’s just an hour. And I’m feeling down. Sorry for myself. Maybe I’m frustrated that the world stopped spinning my way.

And then again I think of Shannon. I remember that feeling these things means I’m alive. I’m here, permitted and privileged to fight another day. And once again, she reminds me to love this turbulent life ferociously.

To all of Shannon’s friends, and especially her family, I’m thinking about you today. And especially to Shannon, the one who kicked my ass: Thank You.

And to all of you who have your own Shannon in your life — the one who grabbed your collar and kicked your ass — today might be a good day to thank them as well.

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