Settling for Safety

There is a tendency, as we live longer or have health challenges, to gravitate towards safety. Sadly, what is considered risk free continues to diminish as time goes on.  I understand this tendency, and see it in myself.  The problem is, it can mean that we pack up our sense of adventure and say goodbye to anything that may cause us anxiety.

Tonight I am writing to you from a small town near Burlington VT. I was invited to come and assist at a nine day training in Japanese Therapies. There are wonderful participants from Australia the UK, US and Canada and it is a privilege to participate. Hard work? Yes. And, also, many satisfying, stimulating and fun moments. However, there are risks involved. Here are a smattering of mine:

It is a five hour drive from Ottawa with over half the trip on busy and fast roads. Highway driving is not easy for me. In truth it is highly anxiety producing. Accidents happen.

Residential training is demanding. The risk of failing to keep up.

There is the risk that I may not sound as smart as I want to be.

I left my extended Ottawa family at a particularly busy time and I don’t like to cause that kind of inconvenience. This is not really a risk but a consequence.

My other important projects will be neglected for ten full days. The risk of not catching up quick enough.

However, I have learned to say yes, knowing full well, I will be filled with regret, when it is too late to back out. But guess what? I have never regretted my “yes,” after the fact. What I have learned is that my most meaningful moments have involved risk and they have always been worth it.

For instance, my anxiety about the drive disappeared once I was on the road. Or my cycling trip around the Cabot Trail seven years ago, which was filled with insecurity and sometimes fear, yet, is now a hi-light of my life. Moving to Ottawa to take an active role in my youngest Grandchildren’s lives was a risky business for all kinds of reasons. And, yet, it was the best thing I could have done.

Today, one of the exercises in the training, was to examine our most meaningful actions in the past ten years and our actions with the biggest risk. Interesting to see that for everyone the two were related.

Taking risks is not being reckless. The willingness to take risks frees us to do things that we want to do. While feeling insecure, we can step out of our comfort zone and experience the aliveness of just doing it, (whatever it means to each of us) while we are still breathing. We can pour ourselves into something we love, while accepting the risk of failure.

I wonder about the risk of risking nothing –  might that possibly be the riskiest thing of all.

Note1: It is still summer in Vermont and I get to drive over a picturesque covered bridge almost everyday. The area looks like a pastoral movie set. Sorry that I don’t have a photo yet.

Note 2: When I turned 65, my 91 year old Mother flew 4500 KM from Vancouver Island to Ottawa for the occasion. She also joined my daughter and son in accompanying me on a hot air balloon trip as a surprise gift. (Her friends told her that this was way too risky.)  She is now 98, still taking risks and living fully. Thank you for reading this post. See you next week, Trudy