If I had forgotten one thing about life, then it was that we are rewarded when we take risks that make us uncomfortable. Certainly, there is a difference between taking dangerous risks, like driving drunk, and safe risks, like swimming naked in a secluded lake. The positive risks enable us to move outside our comfort areas into the beautiful chaos of the world.
Photography was one example of taking a risk that seemed ridiculous 4 years ago; I bought a $5000 camera without any clients or way to pay for the item beyond my teaching paycheck. Within the year, I had made enough to cover my costs and create a viable small business. Stagnation becomes too easy, however, and I had forgotten how to step into new spaces with confident humility.
Last night found me taking a mead making workshop with the people at Food Share. Food Share is a group who engages with the environment, our world’s tough social issues, and deals with them through community and grass roots pitching in. The workshop took place in a former school near Bloor and Ossington. I was intrigued, as an English teacher and food photographer, who had only read about the drink in Chaucer and Beowulf. Honey mead sounded exotic, yet connected to who I was all along.
Honey was not the main sweetener on the island where I am from; with the merchant [and pirate] ships our historic foundations were rum and molasses. The focus of this workshop would be to provide an introduction the the simplest fermentation method, and with cheerful conversation Asher explained the process and what we will need to do over the next month or two to produce a mead similar to the one we were offered. Ahhh, my first taste of mead was enlightening indeed. It tasted of honey and fermentation, but with a unique warmness that was perfect for special winter nights; perhaps a ritual drink to celebrate the solstice or, as our instructor hinted, the traditional drink given to newly married lovers on their wedding night to enable conception: honey for the honeymoon.
The lesson I am learning is that for happiness to thrive I must ignore little fears and embarrassments to accomplish the sweetest hues in gravity’s rainbow. Whether it is challenging myself and others to act silly, or to dance, or to sing, the need to just do what feels right has never been so obvious. The time for do what I want to do is here, and I have never been so confident that my life is finally my own to live with reckless abandon and joy.