Thursday, February 2, 2023

On Risk Taking

I love my fireplace. Especially on rainy evenings like tonight. Tonight I decided to reread Jon Krakauer's story of the 1996 Everest disaster, popularized in the movie by that name. 

Which leads me to ask, "What's the riskiest thing you've ever done?" I'm not sure why, but I've always had an overwhelming yearning for adventure. I suppose the need to investigate the furthest reaches of one's potential is part of the human psyche God created us with. The human desire to pit oneself against nature and the impulse to push oneself to one's absolute psychological and mental limits is simply a powerful force that is itself quite unconquerable. Seems I'm always dreaming of the next mountain peak, the next race. And when that impulse is satisfied (and I swear "I will NEVER run a marathon again!"), the process begins all over again. 

Here's the thing. You and I know full well that life is risky. We can die simply by taking our car out for a drive. Still, adventure appeals to us. One of my life mantras is, "Once a year, go someplace you've never been before." If you read my blog, you know that I think travel is amazing for you spiritually, physically, and mentally (maybe not financially), and that it's a wonderful antidote to growing old. But all that aside, here's the question: do we have a responsibility to show our kids and grandkids that life is more than playing it safe all the time? One year I wanted to climb the Great Wall of China. Who cares if it's 3,550,017 steps? Even the short section I did was extremely steep. But it was an experience I will never forget. 

In the Alps, climbing has a distinctive appeal of its own. When you reach the summit of a 4,000-meter peak, you are standing on a piece of hallowed ground that has a fairly elite membership. Much like a marathon, it's something only a handful of people have ever done. Have you ever noticed the outpouring of emotion and joy when you attempt something tough and you are finally done? I so badly want my kids and grandkids to know that feeling. Not just facing down physically hard things, but even greater hardships like dealing with the losses that life throws at you, overcoming trauma, etc. The things that are tough in life require making a definite decision to face them squarely and not surrendering to excuses. 

My advice: this year, try to do something you're not sure you can do. Embrace it, knowing it will make you stronger. Just because it's hard or risky doesn't mean you shouldn't do it.