I looked up the word reckless today.
The exact definition means to be careless or without thinking/caring about the consequences of an action.
This feisty adjective is often filed away in our “bad labels” box more than in the good one. When we hear it in the same sentence as our name, we may cringe or become defensive. Reckless is not a simple “good” or “bad” word like “nice” or “mean”. No. It’s daring and mysterious by definition and even more risky in application. We think reckless and we think destruction. We can’t put reckless in a box next to “proper” with a pretty bow and expect it to play nice. It won’t happen. Sometimes, reckless misbehaves and get’s it “Sunday clothes” dirty before lunch. Sometimes reckless takes a chance and doesn’t measure the dark french roast arabica coffee beans when making a pot of coffee (too reckless). It’s like Indiana Jones with a scruffy face and flash of danger in its eyes.
If I take a moment and let the angst of the initial stigma of this word wear off, I’m honestly left desiring to be more like it. I’m left desiring to be more careless, something shunned for it’s lack of order and responsibility, than I am careful. I want my identity to be complex and mysterious, not shallow and easily understood. I want to be defined by a word that stops people mid-thought and causes them give my identity a deeper definition. Recklessness beckons a complexity most of us are unwilling to face and, personally, I’m done running from it.
Re-read the definition of reckless and you’ll discover something hiding there amongst the “bad” words like careless and consequence. There is more than pointless destruction. In order to be reckless, or careless despite consequences, you must ultimately still have a care.
To be reckless, is to be careless for a cause. Rarely, are we reckless without one.
Think about it. Let’s go back to Indiana Jones. He was reckless for treasure, or the girl, or because he had to be due to threats on his life. He didn’t wake up and think, “I will put my life on the line and act recklessly, without thought of consequence, for no reason at all.” He knew what he was after and he knew the consequences of going after it. Even Hollywood understands that to create and capture the sanity, purpose, and romanticism of being reckless, there has to be a cause.
When you step back and survey the few (or the many) times that you have been reckless, can you identify your cause? No matter where it ranks on the scale of unnecessary to justified. I know I can. Even in my most reckless moments, I am often sprinting towards something that I deeply want. Freedom. Peace. Healing. Freedom again. Adventure. The thrill. Expression. As concrete or abstract as that sounds, there can be good reason for recklessness. Even in the moments where I made a reckless decision, I was very aware of the consequences and, if I’m honest, that was my reason for recklessness.
Now, don’t go calling my mother fretting over my well being and, please, spare me a disapproving look. I’m not going to go off and buy a Harley or tattoo my face but I am going to live a little more recklessly. I’m going to take a risk and re-define my definition of reckless; give it a chance among words like courageous and brave. I’m going to be careless for a cause whether it’s the Gospel in Africa or the purpose of becoming a better version of myself. I’ll run towards the complexity rather than away. I’ll live into my mistakes and consequences because that’s the only way I’ll get anywhere or become anything of substance. Sometimes you have to bust out your crazy pants and go for a walk folks.
Live recklessly for a purpose. Make it a good one. One that has substance. Only then will the consequences be worth it.
Do not let the fear of being reckless rob you from it’s blessing.