Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.
If you aren't in over your head, how do you know how tall you are?
For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.
T. S. Eliot
Poet T.S. Eliot speaks frequently about taking risks and about the beginning being the end and the end the beginning. Poets tend to go on and on about their favorite themes. And, if we resonate with their thinking, we tend to quote these pieces.
(I can’t remember who said what long enough to quote anything. I can’t even tell you more the locations of more than three Bible verses, and I learned many in Vacation Bible School and should have learned more in seminary and several years of preaching. I can tell you the stories, but I can’t tell you where to find them or who said them.)
However, the topic of this blog is taking risks. Risk is defined as “the possibility of suffering harm or loss; danger” or “a factor, thing, element, or course involving uncertain danger; a hazard”.
But, I think that the definition of risk should include the possibility of gaining something good. For example, last year we went parasailing. With us on the boat were a woman and her 80plus year old mother. The older woman was in pretty good health, but she might have decided that the risk of breaking a bone in landing or having an accident outweighed the possibility of having a thrill and a great time of bonding with her daughter. So, up they went, side by side; the risk of having a good time outweighed any negatives.
Sometimes we decline to do things because we are unsure about what we might gain. Everything in life has good points and bad points, and we probably should consider both the good and the bad. When we decide to “go for it”, we are risking the good. It might happen. Of course, a spectrum of possibilities exists; we might be risking the bad. Take the chance!
I suppose in my younger years, I nearly always chose to risk the possibility of something gained rather than something lost. And, I don’t regret many of those choices. I had a very good time throughout most of my life. Bad times came and went; the good times were so good that I often forgot about the bad ones. I laughed, I cried, I loved, I had lots of thrills because I dared to go the next step. I didn’t need a roller coaster; I lived one. And, I loved it; just listen to my stories. The wilder, the better. No drugs except alcohol, thank you – and eventually that went by the wayside. I didn’t need to get high; I was high on life.
I didn’t succeed financially; I didn’t make a dent in the career fields that I tried; I didn’t settle down and raise a family; but I do have more friends than I can count, and I’ve lived in lots of great places; I’ve eaten all kinds of foods; and I’m not through.
I want to do a few more weird and wild things before I’m done. I want to hang glide; I want to ride a motorcycle; I want to shave my head; I want to dye my hair red; I want a pedicure; I want to live in New York for a few months; I want to travel to some exotic places; I want to drive a hybrid car; I want to hold some more babies; I want to sit beside friends who are dying; I want to feel the grace of winter and the warmth of sunshine. I want to live a while longer and bit further.
New things renew my soul...even the things we call bad things. I want to continue to feel and experience and sense and delight and moan and whine. As I get older, some things are beyond my ability to do, but I want to do what I can do while I can still do it. And, I want to take my friends along for the joy ride.
Catch my coat tails; I think I’m high again and risking having a good time.