Risk Calculations

abby sunderland...one of my heroes

Tonight at dinner we had a wonderful conversation about Abby Sunderland, the 16-yr-old California girl who attempted to circumnavigate the globe and was capsized by a rogue wave in the Southern Indian Ocean.

The question is simple. What is too risky? Why would we ever allow our youngsters to attempt such dangerous things?

The argument was thrust forth that kids of these ages lack the life experience to evaluate and examine the risk of such a feat. They lack caution and wisdom and the 'I'm Invincible' syndrome would likely lead to an unnecessary death.
Well... I disagree. 

Life is a gift. It is at times very fragile and at others amazingly resilient. At the end of the day, we fool ourselves in thinking we control our safety. So here the course bifurcates: do we become wildly irresponsible and reckless because tomorrow we die or do we hole up into a padded room and ponder the many dangers and terrors of life. I'd rather walk the line.

Here is my example. 

At age 14 one of my best friends and role models died in a motorcycle accident likely caused by his own reckless driving. It rocked my world. He was the quintessence of the invincible spirit. Full of life, full of adventure, at times full of rebellion. Nonetheless, he was one of my heroes. It was a devastating loss.

So is that it? Do I walk out and vow to never ride a motorcycle? Do I let fear rule this small area of my life? No, I buy a motorcycle and teach my self to be the best dang rider out there.

But why?

Because life is not about what you can hide from or what you can avoid. Life is about what you look dead in the eyes and say, "Here I am, I'm not moving." It's about the day you walk through the woods in the pitch black and conquer the darkness. It's about staring at the crowd of 5,000 and giving your speech with passion. It's about sailing through a gale on 4 hours of sleep.

Great people...who change the world... aren't great because they made sure their seatbelts were on every time they turned the key. They were great because they assessed the risks, calculated that they had a chance and pulled the trigger on life. 

One day I will be a father. I will tell you now that you won't want your kids to hang out at jd's house. I probably won't have liability insurance and I will most likely have a difficult and awesome rock climbing wall. I don't want to be a parent who chastises my kids for every semi-dangerous thing they do. I want to be the one who challenges them to climb higher, harder, better.

Here is my reasoning. I would rather take an active role in the dangerous desires of youth and be a guide to intentional thought processes and wisdom, than say "that's dangerous!" and have them do it anyway with their buddies. I am no fan of outright stupidity. But calculated risk is a gauntlet that reaps a reward won by no other means. It is the treasure of knowing oneself in the midst of real danger and real risk. It is at this point one gains this elusive 'experience' of life.

"To live is to risk, to live well is to risk wisely."     - me

So, to end this late night rambling. Let me leave you with a wonderfully inspiring story.

Click here to see more of the story and a book promo for Abby Sunderland.

1 comment:

  1. I'll let my kids play at your house. most definitely.


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