“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
“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
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
“Only when your consciousness is totally focused on the moment you are in, can you receive whatever gift, lesson, or delight that moment has to offer.” Barbara De Angelis
A life is full of many moments. Some I love, some I tend to resent. I remember when my children were young. Somedays would be more taxing than others. Often during those times a friend would say, ‘they are going through a phase, they will move into another soon.’
I gave that a lot of thought. If I hurried them through every phase, the end result would be to rush their lives. Lives are so short anyway. Why would I rush a life away?
Today, my children are adults. My parents have passed away. Illness and disease have come and gone. And I have asked myself again-would I wish away any of these phases of suffering?
My answer is, no. All the moments have made me who I am today. The good and delightful, and the sad and sorrowful. They comprise me.
Phases do come and go. Some are short, and some seem as though they will never pass. My goal is to keep moving through the phases. Embrace what I can and try not to get stuck in any one place.
“To reach a port, we must sail – sail, not tie at anchor, sail not drift.” Franklin D. Roosevelt
Patsy Cline–I’m crazy…worry, why do I let myself worry….
Music holds such power. It can set a mood, it can soothe a soul. It can excite and it can add courage as men march to war.
Funny thing about a song, the whole song may be irrelevant to a situation, but there can still be a connection.
Patsy Cline sings ‘I’m Crazy” as a sad realization that she has loved the wrong person. I don’t share that sense. I feel that I love my soul mate who comforts and creates more enjoyment of life. Yet…her words, “I’m Crazy” come out of my mouth frequently. It can be for any number of reasons. I’m crazy to go to the store in the rain. I’m crazy to start a new career late in life.
Today, I am reminded of the other lyrics in this song. “worry, why do I let myself worry?” There is no help in worry. Worry is a waste of energy. Worry drums up all the unquantified potential troubles that may never have to be addressed.
“Worry is the interest paid by those who borrow trouble.” George Washington
“For most people, we often marvel at the beauty of a sunrise or the magnificence of a full moon, but it is impossible to fathom the magnitude of the universe that surrounds us.” Richard H. Baker
I love to see the full moon. Maybe it is because the moon creates a hole in the blackness. That very idea is inspiring to me. Sometimes life seems very dark. In the dark it is hard to find my way. It is difficult to see what lies ahead. In an effort to hurry through the dark place, I run. Running only leads to tripping. So, I have to be more patient. I have to inch along.
Then the full moon comes out! Things do not seem so dark. I still have to tread carefully, but I can see a step or two ahead of me. It wasn’t my eyes that gave me more sight. It was the universe. The moon reminds me that there is other help. There is more wisdom than I have alone. There is direction to be provided. The universe is bigger than me. It is good to be reminded of that.
“To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders.” Lao Tzu