Maybe I can. Can you?
So I was on a boat on Lake Michigan with some friends and I mentioned that I’d begun kayaking again after several years of physical laziness. One man with a passion for issuing challenges said, “If you’ll kayak from South Haven to Saugatuck and back again, I’ll give you $10,000 for your favorite charity.” Immediately I said, ‘There’s no way I can do that. That would be 36 miles. In waves. I’m totally out of shape. As is my old, beat-up kayak. There’s no way I can do that.”
End of conversation.
Until another conversation—in my head—took over.
Hmmmm. Maybe I can. Maybe if I get out there every day and paddle my heart out I can work up to 36 miles by the end of the summer. After all, my donor didn't say how fast I had to paddle--or with what finesse! Surely, if I just keep sticking the paddle in the water, I can make it eventually. Maybe I can even find additional donors and raise more money!
Then I could donate a good chunk of money to my friends in Congo who are working so hard to bring peace and healing to a country still suffering from The World’s Forgotten War.
Maybe I could donate some money to help the Syrian refugees I read about every day. I can’t get them out of my mind. Well over a million Syrians have been forced to flee for their lives--most of them women and children. Maybe it’s time for me to do more than read about them and wish somebody else would do something to help them.
And what about the grassroots peacemakers I’ve met in the Middle East? Israelis, Palestinians, Christians, Muslims and Jews? Those heroes doing the hard work of reconciliation? I know many of them who could use financial support.
I just read that every year thousands of American kids (18 and under) are lured into sex trafficking—in American cities. That’s our kids, in our cities. Also vulnerable to sex trafficking are America's homeless population and undocumented immigrants. I know some amazing people working to free these people. Surely, they could use additional funding.
So. There’s $10,000—at least—on the line here. And plenty of people who need it. All that stands in the way is me and my assumption that I can’t rise to this challenge. But, maybe I can.
Maybe I can.
By the end of that afternoon boat ride, I had decided to give it my best shot. I’ve been out on the lake paddling almost every day of the last two weeks. I’ve got a long way to go before I’m ready for the 36-mile challenge, but I’m heading in the right direction.
I’m writing about this because I know I need the accountability. More to the point, I need the visibility. It wouldn’t be too hard for me to give up on this challenge privately, but I really don’t want to give up in public. So, here it is in black and white on my screen and yours.
I going to try to kayak 36 miles on Lake Michigan in order raise money for some people who really need it. For peacemakers and refugees and vulnerable Americans. My goal is to meet this challenge right before, during or after the Labor Day weekend (timing dependent on weather and waves).
What about you? If you were going to do something ridiculous for a cause, what would your cause be? What need in the world breaks your heart? (If you’re at a loss, I have plenty of suggestions.)
Next question: What could you do to raise a few dollars—or a few thousand dollars—for that cause?
I’d love to hear about kayakers from all over the world paddling on the lake or river or ocean closest to them to raise money for their cause.
But you might have a different idea: Paint your most gorgeous painting ever and sell it? Host a spectacular dinner party and invite your guests to “donate for a cause”? Run a marathon? Or a half? (I know some people running a half-marathon in September for Congo. Want the details?)
Seriously. What challenge is forcing its way (unwanted, perhaps) into your mind while you read this? Come on. I bet there’s an idea taking shape.
Think about it. Think about something a little unreasonable. Think about something you’re pretty sure you can’t pull off. But then keep thinking about it. Let the conversation in your mind spin out of control. Stick with the internal debate until you find yourself thinking, Maybe I can.
Maybe I can.
Then take one step forward. Drag out your beat-up kayak. Get out your paints. Plan your menu. Get a new pair of running shoes. Brainstorm with a friend. Think about who might want to donate to your cause. Seriously. Do it!
Thoughts? Comments? Ideas? I’d love to hear what’s brewing in your mind! Let's cheer each other on!
In the meantime, there's a big lake out there….