Being Alive is Risky Enough, Isn’t It?

Is it important to take risks in life or to be safe? How do you know if you should take a chance or if it’s best to live a quiet and secure life? I am not sure I know the answer to these questions at all and have been mulling them over after having a few conversations with co-workers this week.

If there really is a daredevil gene, I was born without it.

First, the world is full of cautionary tales and I take each one to heart. Tragedies are real and happen to the nicest of people. This week I helped a woman who hadn’t been sleeping well. I talked with her awhile and she told me that she’d lost her husband a few years ago. That’s why she was stressed.

After she left, one of my co-workers told me that her husband, who was by all accounts a kind and fantastic husband, had been killed skydiving. His parachute had failed to open. I was beyond horrified.

Although I have never worked in life and disability insurance, I worked closely enough with those guys to hear things. (Jobs #10 & #11) I know that skydiving, flying in your own small airplane, or racing cars, motorcycles, boats, etc. and any other risky hobbies are not covered by life insurance. If insurance won’t cover it, ask yourself what this means in the grand scheme. (In property casualty insurance, this means that if you can’t get earthquake or flood insurance, you might want to live somewhere else.)

It wasn’t the money I was so upset about – it was the fact that he knew he could die, yet he continued to jump out of a plane. Why would anyone want to do this more than once? Now the worst thing had happened and his family had to live with it for the rest of their lives.

Looking For Adventure

Another co-worker and I talked about risky things people do and she said that her and her husband used to have a motorcycle and ride everywhere. I was shocked she would do something so dangerous.

Your chances of a life-changing injury or death on a street bike are high. You’re up against cars, trucks, and big rigs all driven by Mr. Magoo’s, idiots, or people who are distracted and/or high on crystal meth. One of these nut jobs changes lanes and you lose a leg – or worse, end up with brain damage in a care facility for the rest of your life.

A rider who rode nearly all his life (Job #19) told me that everyone who takes up street riding in their later years has an accident within three years. Sometimes it’s only that they dump the bike in the middle of a busy intersection and can’t pick it back up off of themselves. Other times they put their partner on the back and go on a long road trip, only to crash on a desolate highway, both of them sustaining catastrophic injuries from which they will never fully recover.

These are examples from real life – people that I knew. Is it only me that sees or hears about these things?

The Trouble With Engines

I also came across my boss one day (job #11) who was grieving another client whose plane had gone down. Key word: another. He told me that every person who flew in a small plane would crash eventually. These are just the odds. People who had 30 years of good luck and only one day of terrible luck. My own uncle died when his plane went down during an air show. Although I do not remember this uncle, my Mom has always been affected by his death and has told me the story many times.

Ghosts of Trauma Past

It’s not entirely the shock of the suddenness, the incredible pain – physical or emotional – that gives me pause. It’s the finality: the realization that your and your family’s lives will never – EVER – be the same again. To me, having a mistake – yours or someone else’s – be so final is petrifying.

While I was writing this, I realized that trauma from my childhood has contributed to my cautious nature. When I was eight years old, my Dad had a near fatal car accident that put him in the hospital for over six months and forever changed him. Being a “Daddy’s girl”, I was devastated. I lost my Dad that day. I cannot talk about this.

It’s the unfairness of the accident coupled with the knowledge that it could have been prevented that gives it much of its horror. Living with the after affects – one being near financial ruin – dug a groove so deeply into my psyche that the needle will be stuck there until I die.

Shouldn’t we all get a second chance? To take a different route to work, to change your mind about going for a ride, to sell your airplane, to double-check your equipment….

“If you’re not living on the edge, you take up too much room.”

Relationships? Perhaps the riskiest behaviour of all is to risk your heart. I chose a partner (at 16 no less) who I felt was safe because I knew that financially he’d look after me and any kids we had. He had a great sense of responsibility that I admired very much. There were guys who made me laugh so hard I couldn’t breathe, guys who were outrageous, interesting, or daring but I was never serious about any of them. Give me security every time. That has been true for me for most of my life.

For those of you into astrology, I have Taurus – cautious, careful Taurus – rising. My moon is in Cancer, where it naturally belongs, thank you very much – buckle your seatbelt, eat your veggies, listen to your Mother! Especially your Mother Earth…and your intuition.

I Fink You Freaky

There have been times when I’ve thrown caution to the winds when dating and not written back and forth or had a phone call first. Lesson learned after an hour and a half lecture on the benefits and necessity of CrossFit for everyone…especially me.

Other relationships were lessons in what addiction looks like.

Imagine me on a back country picnic, with a nice homemade lunch of sandwiches and veggies; a typical date with the guy I’d been seeing for two years. During the day he smokes dope, doesn’t eat much, and even has a few beer. On the way down the mountain, he suddenly pulls the vehicle over, gasps and passes out. He wasn’t breathing.

No cell service. I am screaming his name, pounding his chest. My first aid training kicks in and I begin the routine I’d learned so many years before. He makes a choking sound and comes to. Acts as if nothing happened. I am shaking so hard I cannot speak.

When that relationship ended, I was set up on a coffee date with a guy who led with his money, bragging about how much he made and all the fancy stuff he had, etc. He asked for a second date but I politely declined. Good thing. A few months later he was caught trying to get rid of the dead body of his friend. The fact that the guy died violently and that they had financial dealings shouldn’t have me jumping to conclusions.

The only conclusion I can make for sure is that I won’t go for coffee with him again.

Night of the Pandemic

I’ve been affected by the pandemic in ways that have made it even more difficult for me to connect with others. The government (at every level), social and mainstream media, and society all wanting you fired, excluded, and punished will do that to ya. If I was careful before, I am nearly paranoid now.

Getting fired is a typical dick-head, no-ball boss maneuver that I’ve experienced before (note: if you ever DO have a boss that stands up for their employees, consider it a miracle!) so I’m not taking that too personally.

It’s the co-workers, friends, and boyfriend not standing by me that hurts like the Dickens.

Avoiding All the Fish in the Sea

Given my risk-averse, shattered trust history, and knowing how many things can go wrong, it is natural for me to hole up alone to enjoy the rest of my life. But winter does not last forever.

Slowly I am coming out of the of the dark of the last two years and beginning to sing and laugh a little, like a plant emerging in springtime. I’ve become stronger as I’ve learned to take care of my house and my car and even started gardening and canning again.

The predominate feeling I have these days is gratitude. I am SO lucky. With my happiness and newfound contentedness, it is getting easier and easier to forgive. Lately I’m feeling much freer – as if I’ve been able to cast off a few layers of old growth that was no longer needed. My life is different than it was and I am enjoying myself more.

Yet there is something nagging my mind just beyond all this. It’s the feeling that by avoiding deep relationships, I’m taking the “easy” way out.

“For one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks, the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but a preparation.”

Rainer Maria Rilke

Knowing that I have my own back and can be resilient in the face of adversity has really empowered me. Of course, I haven’t tested it out in the nightmare world of internet dating yet, have I?!

Hold my beer….


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