“Life is inherently risky. There is only one big risk you should avoid at all costs, and that is the risk of doing nothing.” Denis Waitley
Oh, the nebulous world of Risky. The definition depends on the day. When I was young, it didn’t seem so risky to climb a ladder, reach a little to paint in that wee corner of the wall. Today, I am older, and the days of climbing ladders has ceased. It is deemed too risky. The wall may still need painted, I just have to find a new way to get it accomplished.
As a nurse, my mind has turned into radar to detect risk. As we rehab our 200 year old home, my job is risk management. With an adventuresome, courageous and competent engineering husband I stay plenty busy in that role!
I use the sliding scale of “risk : benefit” ratio. Many activities carry some degree of risk. However, the benefit may outweigh the potential risk. Conversely, the benefit may be low and the potential risk too high. On occasion, the risk is high for me, but the benefit for mankind may be huge.
“I wondered how many was like me. Like me wanted to be free. Had thought bout leaving, but stayed for some reason. Then somethin happens. Takes you over your edge-that edge of fear not knowin what’s on that other side. Not willin to take the first step to move to some new spot. Then somethin kinda forces your foot. An you step out.” ” Leo and the Listener”, by Faye Hager
“You give loyalty, you’ll get it back. You give love, you’ll get it back.” Tommy Lasorda
Loyalty is an old word and cited by many leaders. But it is a puzzling word. Many of us have seen our parents work their whole career at the same facility only to be let go just before retirement. Apparently loyalty was not a two-way street.
Some have followed leaders blindly-being loyal. But was it from love or fear?
Whistleblowers have cropped up and consequently some unjust activities were exposed and practices corrected. The whistleblower is seen by the company as disloyal, but by the community as a brave exposer of injustice.
Perhaps we use the word loyal to promote a concept of unconditional love for someone. But even as a loving parent we have to sometimes say ‘no’ to the child.
Is it loyalty we seek or honesty and dependability that are the more supportive options?
“Everyone should be respected as an individual, but no one idolized.” Albert Einstein
“It’s a Jungle out There-disorder and confusion everywhere” Randy Newman
We live in a crazy time. Or maybe past generations have said the same thing. People hurting people. Craziness. The ‘hurt’ may take on a variety of forms, but pain is the end result. I struggle with understanding how one person can purposely harm another.
Does the harmer believe the harmed deserves it? Is harm done to display power and superiority over another?
Perhaps I should give up attempts to understand cruelty. Cruelty must come from a compromised mental capacity. But I should never give up trying to stop the hatred that fuels the harm.
“The greatest threat to compassion is the temptation to succumb to fantasies of moral superiority.” Stephen Batchelor
“The first and worst of all frauds is to cheat one’s self.” Pearl Bailey
“This above all: to thine own self be true.” William Shakespeare
These are familiar sayings that we often recall when we are making a decision. We try and find our core which we believe will speak to us and provide us guidance as to a decision.
But does our ‘core’ change? Do experiences change who we are and therefore how we might decide? We are rehabbing a 200 year old home. As we work on the house, I often wonder how the house was originally arranged. The internal walls have changed many times. Even the external walls have been altered in a few places. But the ‘core footprint’ has remained the same.
Perhaps it is that way with people. The basic core of who we are-kind, compassionate, thoughtful, truthful-remains unaltered as we journey through our lives. Yet, some have experienced hardships and become bitter, cynical, and even hateful. How does that happen? To which self are we to be true. The one pre-hardship? The innocent and naive person? Sometimes I mourn the loss of my innocence and naiveté. Or the new core honed by hardship? Honing can provide new skills-patience, perseverance and tolerance.
Truth, as we understand it, is also tricky. What we once knew-with so much certainty that lives were taken for questioning the truth (such as the world is flat, the sun revolved around the earth…many individuals were tortured who dared to question that truth of the day). As we grow, learn, and explore our life we may alter our perspective. Is that being a fraud to ourselves? or is that becoming new and fresh again?
“I am a fraud. I have cobbled together my personality from hundreds of little bits. I am simultaneously the most genuine and the most artificial person you will ever meet.” Sebastian Horsley
“There’s never enough time to do all the nothing you want.” Bill Patterson, Calvin and Hobbes
My last day of work is arriving soon. I will turn over my computer-yikes! Is it possible? I have checked work emails 24-7 for many years. What will I do when the urge hits to see what is happening at work? Well, I hope I smile and remind myself- ‘oh that’s right, I’m retired!’
I was raised around a puritan work ethic-make every minute count. And I sure tried to do that. I crammed into every hour not only many things, but I tried to make them as varied as possible so that I constantly had to switch hats as they say. A master juggler of multi-tasking! Well, my arms are tired and I don’t see the balls so well anymore.
I recently read a wonderful book (that I highly recommend!) A Gentleman in Moscow written by Amor Towles. The main character Rostov is questioned early into the book about his daily activities. Rostov responds, “Dining. Discussing. Reading. Reflecting. The usual rigmarole.”
My new goal! Dining, discussing, reading, reflecting. Retirement rigmarole!
“Those who decide to use leisure as a means of mental development, who love good music, good books, good pictures, good plays, good company, good conversation-what are they? They are the happiest people in the world.” William Lyon Phelps
So much can happen in a year. A day can be busy. A week can be full. A year can change your life. They are all made up of moments.
One year ago today, my son was diagnosed with stage IIIb cancer. He didn’t live close by. I wasn’t there when the doctor told him. I was 2000 miles away connected by some unseen electronic air wave cell phone line.
He made it. He went through chemo/radiation pre-surgery. Then a 15 hour radical surgery and then follow up chemo. We traveled by air to be there. To touch. To love. To cry. To encourage.To hope. To fear. To despair. To move into another day.
PET scan showed no cancer. Celebration!
Yet…this day brings back haunting emotions. Life is very short. We all live one phone call away from very sad news. Life changing information.
My philosophy? Live each day without regret. Love. Forgive. Don’t try and be perfect.
Islands bring adventure! Beauty! Exotic sights! Or perhaps they can bring danger, hunger and isolation.
By definition an island is surrounded by water. Without a means to leave the island by boat or swimming one could feel trapped there. Emotions can be like islands. We can feel so overwhelmed by an emotion that we believe there is no escape. When the emotions are jubilant, we don’t mind. We would like to live on the jubilant island forever! But when emotions are dark, we wish to seek light and an escape from such despair, sadness or loneliness.
One must start with John Donne’s declaration. ‘No man is an island’. No matter how isolated one feels, there is a way of escape. The first step is an act of the will-a desire to escape. The desire must translate into actions or the presumed desire is not real. It is an illusion which further traps the inactive person in despair.
So how might one bridge the water which seems to obstruct escape? Remember, we are not islands. We are people with connections to others. Approaching others may not be easy. A bridge may have to be built or repaired. A person may have to learn to swim to escape. Sometimes we can build the bridge alone. Sometimes we can teach ourselves how to swim. Sometimes we need external instruction. This instruction can be obtained via a friend, a counselor, a book, or a sage. When we want to escape, we must take the action required for that desire to become a reality.
“Too much self-centered attitude, you see, brings, you see, isolation. Result: loneliness, fear, anger. The extreme self-centered attitude is the source of suffering.” Dalai Lama