I am a writer who came of a sheltered life. A sheltered life can be a daring life as well. For all serious daring starts from within.
- Eudora Welty
The first time I read this quote in Barbara Abercrombie’s A Year of Writing Dangerously, I just kept reading. It didn’t resonate with me in any way.
The second time I read this quote, more than a year after the original reading, I felt something inside me shift. I highlighted the quote and tagged the page with a Post-It.
In many respects, and most likely by other people’s standards, I have led a sheltered life. I spent my entire childhood in one home. I now live ten minutes away from that home. I haven’t traveled the world, haven’t put myself in dangerous situations, haven’t made the news headlines.
And yet, with each birthday, as the numbers keep creeping steadily forward, I am able to look at my life and realize that it has indeed been daring. And I strive to keep it that way.
At the age of twenty-two, I moved in with the man who would become my husband. I put myself through college, relying on public transportation, and not letting a daily commute requiring six buses stop me from earning my degree. I witnessed a drug deal on the street as I anxiously waited for my bus, had to handle unwanted attention from men considerably older than myself, and I did it each day and would then wake up and do it again the next day.
I have traveled to Paris, have gone parasailing on Catalina Island, and have ridden in a hot air balloon with my dad. I drove the road to Hana in Maui and explored San Francisco by myself.
My writing has been published in national papers, and several years ago, I recorded one of my personal essays for an NPR segment. I currently write two weekly columns for a popular website.
I think what is really changing are my definitions -- what really defines a “sheltered life” and “daring.”
All my acts of “daring” were done for me. I wasn’t trying to impress anyone else. I wasn’t trying to set a record or earn kudos from others. And truthfully, I never stopped to think that I was behaving in a daring way. I was merely living the way that was right for me at the time.
I am a woman who plans and organizes and maps things out. And while that works to a certain extent, these last few years have taught me that no one can plan and organize and map out everything. And as I adjust, as I adapt, I continue to try to live in the way that is most right for me and my family.
It is my sheltered life that provides me with the protection and security to do the things that are daring for me.