“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”  Mary Oliver

Jessica Hagy’s article, “How to Be More Interesting (In Ten Simple Steps),” got me thinking about taking risks and breaking out of ruts. I don’t think I’m alone in becoming gun-shy and cautious as I experience life’s disappointments and disapprovals. Here are her recommendations (with some minor edits), followed by some reflections. While I like some of these suggestions better than others, the overall effect on me echoes my favorite advice from Dallas Willard: “Keep plowing new ground. Keep accepting new challenges.”

  1. Go exploring. Explore ideas, places, and opinions.
  2. Share what you discover. And be generous when you do. Not everyone went exploring with you.
  3. Do something. Anything. Dance. Talk. Build. Network. Play. Help. Create. Sitting around and complaining is not an acceptable form of “something,” in case you were wondering.
  4. Embrace your innate weirdness. No one is “normal.” Everyone has quirks and insights unique to themselves. Don’t hide these things—they are what make you interesting.
  5. Have a cause. If you don’t care about anything, no one will care about you.
  6. Minimize the swagger. Egos get in the way of ideas. If your arrogance is more obvious than your expertise, you are someone other people will avoid.
  7. Give it a shot. Try it out. Play around with a new idea. Do something strange. If you never leave your comfort zone, you won’t grow.
  8. Hop off the bandwagon. If everyone else is doing it, you’re already late to the party.
  9. Be brave. Bravery is needed to have contrary opinions and to take unexpected paths. If you’re not courageous, you’re going to be hanging around the water cooler, talking about the guy who is.
  10. Ignore the scolds. Boring is safe, and you will be told to behave yourself. The scolds could have, would have, should have. But they didn’t. And they resent you for your adventures.

It’s possible that this advice could be taken as license to go and sample all kinds of sinful or self-centered escapades. That is NOT my point. I think that my tendency, and perhaps yours too, is to play it too safe, to stick to what you know, to keep repeating the same behaviors but hoping for different outcomes. While living prudently is not a bad thing, living fearfully does not mature us into who we yearn to be in Christ. Hagy’s suggestions have less to do with being interesting and more to do with living more fruitfully, more intentionally, more creatively. None of these suggestions need disconnect us from Christ, who is always the source of true life. My friend Dan Rodriguez is fond of saying in church leaders meetings, “Let’s make some new mistakes this year!” To which I say, “Amen!”  Can I get a witness?

Andy Wall
Author: Andy Wall