Are You Afraid to Die? Or Afraid to Live?

No haircut for me

As a New Year’s resolution, I posted (tongue-in-cheek) that I was going to get a haircut.  The remarks I got on Facebook, and the comments I’ve gotten in emails as well as people stopping by my favorite table at Firestorm have shown me that most people didn’t realize I was kidding.

So, I’ve given it some thought.  I figured I owed it to folks to come up with a real resolution, and I have.  Here it is.

I have learned in recent years that the greatest rewards in life come from taking giant steps out of my “comfort zones.” I believe life is about taking chances. It’s about trying new things and being open to whatever comes along.

Perhaps I don’t go to some of the safest countries in the world and yes, someone before me might have run into a terrible end.  But I’m not going to live my life in fear of what MIGHT happen.  I’m not going to sit at home watching TV as other people have adventures in great places.

I’ve always loved to travel.  I’ve always wanted to travel.  I will continmue to step out of my comfort zone and face the risks which may be invovlved.  I will continue to push the fear of the unknown to the side and then behind me, like a swimmer pulls and then pushes the water back to propel himself forward.  I choose to embrace the endless possibilies and be encouraged by the likelihood of feeling joy, of witnessing beauty, of exchanging words and acts of kindness with strangers who cross my path and fall into my lens.

This year I will count my blessings frequently.  I have finally moved closer to learning what life is about and how important it is to really and truly SEIZE THE DAY.  I will eat dessert first.  I’ll use the “good” dishes”.  I’ll make every meal a celebration and will dance whenever the spirit moves me.  I’ll sing as though no one is listening and will go places that I’ve never been and do things I’ve never done.

My future is uncertain.  At any given moment, fate might intervene and throw a curve my way.  A drunk driver could end my life.  Maybe I’ll be the victim of a terrible crime.  Or I could be diagnosed with an incurable disease.

I can only count on the NOW.  As I get older, I am more and more aware that today might be my last and today is a gift to be treasured.  Too many people in this country have one foot in yesterday and one foot in tomorrow – they’re peeing all over today.

So what is my genuine New Year’s Resolution?

I will not be afraid to die because I have not been afraid to live.

Jerry Nelson is a freelance photojournalist living in Asheville, North Carolina. He has traveled the world documenting the tears, joys, laughter and lives of people everywhere. He currently focuses his attention and his camera on people, places and things in the United States.  A portion of the proceeds from each photo shoot is donated to organizations that help the homeless in the communities in which he works. You can see more of his photography by clicking here.

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