Do Something Daring

“Devote today to something so daring even you can’t believe you’re doing it.” -Oprah
 
Have you ever done something so incredible that you actually stood there thinking, “I must be crazy!” 
 
I remember the first time I was on my way to Prudential Center to cover my first New Jersey Devils game from the press box.  The Devils are notorious for being the hardest press box in the league to get into.  They don’t let just anyone in.  I remember looking out of the train window counting the number of white cranes passing by (white cranes are a sign of good luck in Asian lore).  My luck had changed that day.  From there on out, things were going to be very different in my life.
 
That following October I did something that I had never done before in my entire life.  I hopped on a plane and went to Prague, Czech Republic.  I don’t think I realized what I was doing until I was somewhere between Dublin, Ireland and Prague. 
 
I had hopped on an airplane and gone to not just one, but two foreign countries with no one else to accompany me.  I was actually on my way to a country where I didn’t even speak the language.  I had no idea where I was going when I landed. 
 
That fear of unknowing settled in when I arrived at the Prague airport.  Why did I decide to take the bus?  It’s dark outside…how am I supposed to know when I’ve reached my stop?  How do I even begin to ask directions when English is not their native tongue?
 
Oh, I felt like I was about to freak out and have a panic attack…but you want to know what kept me from freaking out?  Upon my arrival at the customs line, there was a huge sign of this smiling Czech, attempting to start a food fight using some mashed potatoes.  It was a huge sign.  HUGE!  And you know what?  It was a sign to me that everything was going to be alright. 
 
Who was that smiling Czech?  Jaromir Jagr.
 
From the airport, I hopped on the local bus into Prague.  Would you believe that a random Czech on the bus helped me out?  He not only spoke English, but he helped me find my hotel.  He was so concerned that I might go the wrong way, he actually followed me to make sure I went the right way. 
 
The next Czech I ran into, pointed the hotel out to me down the street…and he spoke English too.  I got to the hotel alive and in one piece in the middle of the night. 
 
The next morning, I headed off to O2 Arena…on the metro!  I sat there with my guidebook and metro map in my hands, repeating the words of the announcer announcing each stop so I could learn to say the words correctly.  Some Czechs laughed at me, and if I mispronounced the words, they repeated the words again to help me out…and they didn’t speak a word of English!
 
They loved it even more when I attempted to read the signs out loud.  I mean…why do they have words that are 15-25 letters long?  Takes me an eternity to get through the entire word!
 
In that scary first time in a foreign country where I didn’t speak the language, I actually mastered Prague on that trip.  I stood at the walls of Vysehrad and remarked to myself that I couldn’t believe what I had done…I hopped on a plane and went to a foreign country (by myself) where I didn’t even know the language or the lay of the land!  Who does that?
 
I had done something so incredulous that I was left standing in the middle of nowhere in Prague in disbelief at what I had done…but you know what?  It was that moment that changed my life forever.
 
When I was in Boumalne, Morocco, an older retired couple asked me why I decided to come to Morocco on my own.  Why did I travel alone?  Truthfully, traveling internationally for NHL events these past few years has taught me to be independent and not to rely on anyone.  I can come and go as I please. 
 
As far as going to Morocco by myself…it was my dream to go to Morocco…not my friends.  Most of my friends couldn’t afford to take the time off or pay the big fee involved with this tour…so I went by myself and I don’t regret it one bit.
 
I don’t think if I brought friends with me that I’d be able to make the incredible relationships that I did make in Morocco.  I wouldn’t have fallen in love under an African sky.  I wouldn’t have become close friends with Driss…and yeah, I think about him all of the time and how I miss my good pal. 
 
I still think of his last words to me.  “It hasn’t been months, weeks, days, minutes or seconds since you’ve been away, but I miss you already.”  I almost cried when he said that.  Those Moroccan men are so poetic, but it was exactly how I felt about leaving my good buddy to go home. 
 
If I had brought someone with me that first time, none of those words would have been said.  I would have had that true disconnect from Morocco like the tourists in the big tour groups had.  I wouldn’t have been able to experience the country the way that I did.
 
One tour group that sat down with me at breakfast couldn’t believe just how different my experiences in Morocco had been as compared to theirs.  They had gone to all of the same places as me, but my experiences were much more heightened.  The Moroccan men were making a point to come up to me to talk to either me or my guide about me. 
 
My night with Hamid…yeah…that does not happen with big tour groups.  Trust me, I’ve heard all of the low down and dirty stories.  Those stories are passed from one tour guide to the next all over Morocco…and they told me all of those stories.  But if you were to ask those tourists which tour they would have preferred…they would have preferred mine, because my trip was amazing and very spiritual. 
 
Going back to Morocco this next time, I don’t mind bringing someone along so that they will experience Morocco the way that I did.  It’s just like in Prague…I don’t mind showing others Prague through my eyes…even if it’s the most romantic spots in all of Prague.  Maybe I romanticize the city, but I do feel home when I am there (I’ll admit it…I’m kind of in love with Prague and the people there).  I’ve found places that tourists do not tread and found the beauty of Prague in these hidden spots.  I don’t like tourists…so I tend to be that kind of tourist that looks for the hidden beauties in far off lands…away from everybody else.
 
There are a lot of things I’ve done since that day back in 2008 when I was on my way to Prudential Center to officially cover the Devils for the first time.  A lot of those moments, I’m usually standing there thinking…I can’t believe this is happening.
 
My most recent moment was standing in front of Jaromir Jagr in the locker room holding my Blackberry in his direction.  He usually looks down in his interviews, but the one moment he looked up and his big blue eyes were looking into mine, it took every ounce of me not to faint in front of the hockey god.  It was that moment I’ve been dreaming about for years.  That dream was unfolding before my very eyes on January 2, 2012.  I had a chance to finally meet the guy that made me fall in love with hockey to begin with. 
 
In that moment, you forget that you were mad at him for leaving.  You remember how much you loved hockey because he was playing in this game.  Then you realize…holy crap…Jaromir Jagr is standing right in front of me.  Is this a dream or is this real?
 
Then all that’s left is just to smile from the inside.  Oh, this is real, alright.  You are at the Winter Classic in Philadelphia and this is real.  Who would have ever thought I would be standing in that very moment back in 2005?  Funny how life changes in such a short amount of time.  But that moment started a dream come true.
 
If you’ve seen me tweet something strange to another person (as of lately I’ve had a few people inquiring if I’m flirting with a hockey player)…no, it’s not flirting.  It’s kind of…hard to explain it.  When I was in the Sahara Desert, I realized that I would be returning to Morocco.  The odd thing was that I saw someone coming along with me.  Funny, because he is probably going with me on this next trip back. 
 
The guys back in Morocco will tell you that I was kind of on a spiritual OMG moment out there.  As in, I was predicting stuff left and right and doing things that makes them think I was wielding miracles or something.  The way they described me from one man to the next…”She’s special.”  Special as in the…if you fuck up…God may strike you down dead for messing with her.
 
So we’ll see how this next trip plays out, because the irony is…we are making plans to go to Morocco in the hockey off-season.  Funny how I saw him going to Morocco back when I was in the sand dunes…and now we’re planning on going together.  I guess you can say that it’s a fate kind of thing.  The Moroccan men believe in it wholeheartedly.  But on this trip…this being my second trip and Morocco is still fresh in my mind, I’ll end up being part tour guide on this trip so that I can show him Morocco the way I experienced it. 
 
I think, in a way, the reason why I saw him coming along with me on this next trip was because he’s the only person that would understand what I experienced.  And in a way, he needs that experience.  Morocco calls to people…I felt it for years.  In a way, it’s like Morocco was telling me to bring him next time, because he’ll need what happens in this country just as much as I did.
 
In other good news, that means I’ll be able to go outside of the hotel in the evening after Driss drops us off!  Woo Hoo.  {Watch…I’ll probably konk out at 8PM.}
 
At any rate, the reason why I started writing this post was to let you understand that the most amazing moments in life are when you take an incredible chance at a dream.  I’m a firm believer that dreams do come true.
 
The first time I ever verbalized that I wanted to be a hockey writer…I was sitting directly behind Jaromir Jagr at a hockey game.  I remember him overhearing it and turning around to look at me from the bench…probably thinking that it was the craziest wish anyone could have (I don’t think he likes the media too well).  Imagine standing in front of him a few years later and realizing that you are living that dream you verbalized for the first time when he was sitting right in front of you.  Sure, it was a job before.  But in front of Jagr…that’s the realization that the dream you had so many years ago…it came true.
 
It was standing in front of him realizing that my dream had come true…that was why I almost fainted.  Not because it was Jagr, but because I realized I had done something so crazy…and made a dream into a reality. 
 
It’s in doing something so crazy that you tear down those walls you put up in your life.  It’s not a matter of someday or an I wish or an I hope.  It’s a matter of doing something so crazy like piercing that veil between dreams and reality and making that dream you want so bad come true.  It’s not about chasing a dream.  It’s about doing the impossible and making it possible.
 
It’s about taking chances and risks…never knowing if there’s ground below.  It’s about running to stand still.  When you find yourself standing still in a moment when you realize that your dream has come true…it will take every ounce of you to not faint, but to soak in everything about that moment. 
 
Your dream is real.
 
 
 

About Michelle Kenneth

Michelle Kenneth has been a member of the NHL credentialed media covering the New Jersey Devils since 2008 for Inside Hockey. She is the owner or PerfectionistWannabe.com.