Personal Journeys with Gramma

Life adventures, inspiration and insight; shared in articles, advice, personal chats and pictures.

If You’re Too Safe, You’re Sorry

risk

We begin taking risks when we’re born into this world.  Many wish it weren’t so.  We wish we were simultaneously swaddled in a warm blanket and handed a contract guaranteeing that we would never suffer loss or harm.  But, to arrive, we accepted life as it is—a fact we may conveniently forget when the going gets scary.

Some deliberately court death of one kind or another, exhilarated by staring into the face of fragile existence and repeatedly defying it to kill them.  Their lives may be richer, but their lifespans are frequently shorter.  I am not one of that group, so it wouldn’t be fair of me to comment on whether the trade is worthwhile.

Some cling desperately to an illusion of security, pretending that life can be captured in a glass jar and kept dancing and bright as a firefly forever without the inconvenience of danger.  Of course, a firefly dies in a jar.  So does life waste away when we try to force it to hold still.  The body may keep functioning, but the delight of life is dimmed.  Life becomes a plodding avoidance of death.

I admire the people who live between these two extremes—the people who think of their lives as a series of colorful amusement park rides and can laugh when the rollercoaster car drops suddenly.  Love is one huge risk, of course, since we must trust to love, and the more we trust, the more vulnerable to hurt we are.  But when we win, we win big.  In fact, all the best parts of living—family, friends, involvement in good causes, the pursuit of talents and curiosity, etc.–seem to require some bravado.

Middle class people are infamous for trying to circumvent risk.  We save our money, take stable jobs, marry reliable partners.  Our plans don’t always work, but we do our best to smooth the trail ahead.  People with either far more or far fewer resources feel freer to walk on the wild side.  Their plans don’t always work out, either, but they have less to lose.  Ironically, their freedom with material risks isn’t always mirrored by freedom to take intellectual and emotional risks.

One of the best aspects of growing older is you care far less what other people think.  At last, you may give yourself permission to stay away from the “friends” who bored or offended you in favor of companions who make you feel alive and clever.  You may walk away from the same old job to play with talents and skills you were afraid wouldn’t support you.  When young people wonder why many “seniors” seem to be happier, they need only to look at the dreary parts of their own lives to see what those seniors have left behind.  We have slipped into the fast current of living, and the water is just fine.

Writing this blog has been a risk for me, but I’m about to take a bigger one.  I’m working with Sojourn Publishing to publish my first public novel.  (I started writing private novels—or novelettes—when I was twelve and never really stopped.)  Entitled DEATH LOST DOMINION, this first book is a work of literary fiction, a story that asks the purpose of death through the lives of two ordinary women forced into extraordinary circumstances.  In future articles, I’ll share the background information of how this book came to be and how anyone who’s interested will be able to access it or the mentors who helped me.  I’m walking the walk!

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