The best – or perhaps the worst – dare is one that changes you. It’s inherently dangerous and somewhat terrifying the act of taking on a dare. One can be commended or ridiculed after taking that risk, but you can never be absolutely certain just what it will ultimately mean for you. That uncertainty, that unknowable hidden danger, it’s what makes you hesitate even when you’re at your bravest. At the same time, it’s probably also what fuels the proclivity to just shrug your shoulders, mutter, “screw it” and just go for it.
All the diversity in the world can be placed on some sliding scale. Where you are on that scale is a large part of your identity: how dark your skin color is, how sexually attracted you are to person of the same gender, how willing you are to take risks. Of course, society doesn’t work according to scale. It prescribes either-or definitions and categorizes accordingly. The question of how willing are you to take that dare transforms into: I dare you to do this; are you going to do it?
I think more people are daredevils than they are cautious. There isn’t even a positive noun to use as an antonym for the word daredevil. You’re either a daredevil or… a coward. That’s not right though. No one wants to be known, much less seen as a coward. You’re not a daredevil but perhaps you’re like a mouse? A thoughtful mouse? That’s the best way I can put it and it only makes sense. Living life well is all about taking risks, being challenged by dares unsaid, and taking them head on. Backing down from a dare is only acceptable when you’re absolutely certain it’ll turn out badly. More often than not, it’s our human nature to regret more the things we didn’t do than something we did. (That’s usually the case anyway. Exception would be if you accidentally killed someone by running them over with your car. That’d definitely be extremely, extremely regrettable.)
Then there are the unthinkable dares. It’s so terrifying that we don’t even dare utter it. Fortunately for me (and probably for you as well), the dare I’m pondering of is impossible. It’s scientifically impossible currently, unless the technology showcased in the TV show Doll House gets developed. To me the worst dare I can think of is to dare someone is to think the way I do, feel the way that I do. It’s so unthinkable for me that I’ve been extremely hesitant to post these words on a public site like this one.
Lately (and I don’t know if my state of unemployment is a factor), I’ve been feeling extremely anti-social. That’s ironic considering my dream is to be a social worker. That part of me hasn’t really changed. I chose to pursue this field because I love meeting new people, learning their life stories, learning from how they overcome their life challenges, grateful that I can somehow be of help to them. Yet, all those lovey dovey sentiments can get overshadowed by my constant, grumpy broodiness. I just want to be left alone in my apartment, left alone to do whatever without worry. Calls from family and friends feel like obligations. That’s really horrible especially since I have so few friends and so I get so few phone calls/texts a day.
That’s not to say I don’t value my parents and the few close friends I have. I enjoy being with them. They always brighten me up whenever I meet them, even during those few times when things are just awkward.
It’s the ambivalence that often exists between a parent and a child. The father loves the daughter, absolutely loves the daughter. He sacrifices countless things for the wellbeing of his kid. But as much as he loves her, every moment of love and joy there’s his mind whispering, “Dammit, this is so annoying; I wish she didn’t exist.” Sacrifices aren’t easy, even when it’s out of love that strong. The same applies to the girl. She loves his dad and also hates him. That’s what love is. That’s what makes it magical.
Mine is just weird though. I do love the people in my life, but the ambivalence I often feel can be a bit too upsetting. More than that, it’s depressing. It’s hard to get out of my head this ugly thought, that everything would be better and simple if I just didn’t know any of them, if I just had me and a job to do five days a week every week.
It all comes back to that unthinkable dare. It wouldn’t make sense to anyone else why I think that would be the worst dare, why it would be so bad to have a person’s brain work like the way mine does. There’re certainly worse minds to try. I’m not claiming that if you import my neurons, you’ll suddenly turn into a chronically depressed, suicidal alcoholic. That isn’t likely, though a lot of times I think it’s a miracle I’m not like that myself.
After all, life ultimately for me is waiting to die. I have some good times, I struggle, I accomplish some things, I fail at things a number of times, and then I get back to being nothing again, just like how I was before I was born, like when I’m sleeping, dreamlessly.
All living beings make such a ruckus here in this world, mostly because the end process is so painful. A bullet traveling at the speed of sound, a pill absorbed into your veins in mere seconds – they may be quick, but easy they are not. Death is that final, the toughest thing about life, and yet, like the morbid, cynical person that I am, that’s what I patiently wait for. It’ll be extremely painful to get there, but still I’d like to sleep. This world, with its dark histories and its conniving is too disappointing for me. It’s not the world though. The world is still beautiful after all’s said. It’s me. I’m disappointing to me. That’s always been the one truth clinging so tightly onto me. It’s why I’m certain my life ahead will be hard, and my death, in comparison, will be easy.
Imagine having these kinds of words float in your head, lying on your bed trying to fall asleep. These thoughts, they come live waves and disappear like stars – sudden, striking powerfully and then dissipating, fading, but forever lingering, even after they’re long dead. Imagine that. And that’s the unthinkable dare.
I imagine someone else daring me to do likewise, and I’d be too terrified to so. The devil lives inside all of us. It makes each one of us believe that our thoughts are the worst, and also the best, and hence the most important. Here’re my two middle fingers to the devil though. He doesn’t exist. My thoughts really are the worst.
I’m only twenty-five years old and here I find myself afraid of the prospect of making new friends. The technology doesn’t exist (that I know of) that can imprint my neurological pattern exactly onto someone else’s brain, but even without a fancy sci-fi device, the danger is still there. All it takes is for a stranger to get to know me. I’ll smile and be my cheery self, laughing behind this illogical fear that if I share my honest thoughts, I’ll be a party pooper. It’s nothing I worry about if the person is my client, a coworker, or my boss. Those professional relationships have their functions and their boundaries. Friendships are different. What boundaries there may be are unwritten. They exist beyond function and purpose. They demand honesty, trust, sharing. At a past point in my life, there’s nothing I cherished more; now I duck and cower back into my shell, alone.
I’ve become too depressing and too serious in my thoughts. Still, to others in my life, I try to be like Louis C.K on stage, just making fun of it all.
When I knew less about things, the biggest desire driving me was this insatiable desire to share what I learned. I learned a new fact, a new way to solve a problem, and it suddenly became my duty to make sure others got it too. I loved feeling like a teacher. Now, I still don’t know all that much, but having made it to this point, the more I learn, the more stupid I feel. I’d rather stay quiet, and just listen. I feel that I don’t have much to share. It’s funny; I guess I thought myself a teacher before a student, a writer before a reader.
I’ve changed so much I doubt the past me could possibly imagine the current me. It happened without a dare. A single dare doesn’t change a person like that. People change and posted as signs on those weird shaped forks in the roads are series of unnamed risks they either took or quit. The signs are hard to read, almost as if they were written in a foreign language they never learned, not fully anyway. The roads however stretches on. Without stopping for breaks, people have to simultaneously wonder where they’ll end up and also try to answer the question, “how the hell did I end up here?”
I wouldn’t dare anyone to live my life. And I wouldn’t take anyone else’s dare to live his/her life. Well… See, like I said, all of us, we are more like daredevils than we are thoughtful mice.