Some of my friends say I am not taking enough risks to be enjoying life. Here in Bend, Oregon, nearly everyone participates in some form of risky physical activity. Even older people ski in the winter and do extensive travel with hiking in the summer, and do water sports like kayaking. Our city even built a large multipurpose indoor rink this year and next to it a specially designed waterfall complex on the Deschutes River to encourage risky sports.
It seems that half the houses in our town have some type of sport-vehicle parked on the lot. Campers, snowmobiles, big pickups with equipment, nearly everyone has towing balls on their vehicles, and most of the 4-wheel drive Subaru Outbacks have some form of fancy roof equipment. Even fly-fishing has some risk because the fisherman must stand around alone in a slippery situation for hours on end, where a fall into icy water can quickly lead to complications. Even driving a car can be dangerous on our local roads that are icy in the winter, and eleven people were reported to have gotten killed in the last few days.
Within ten steps of my coffee shop, in the public alley, the ice had been so mangled by trucks, with slush being refrozen, that it was reported that fourteen people fell crossing it in one afternoon, with one suffering a serious head injury. When I needed to cross that alley I backtracked a few steps and jaywalked across the street instead of taking any chance. It was so bad that the city was called and jack-hammered the ice away. A little foresight as to the risk would have eliminated it when it was still fluffy snow, before it became a risk.
My point comes back to my basic philosophy of not taking chances unless there is a reward that clearly outweighs the risk. I even wrote some blog posts about risk: A Dictionary of New Epigrams – Risk. — The best risk analysis you are ever likely to see. — Magic and risk were discussed today. — See risk before it becomes risky. — Avoid unnecessary risks. — Risk of death measured by CriSTAL, Glasgow Coma Scale, RTS and START — Epictetus – Enchiridion – A manual of Stoic living. Paragraph 33
These are all the simplest of common-sense ideas, but most local people choose to ignore them. People seem to be implying there is something inherently wrong with avoiding risk. Perhaps as I wrote last week, Positive statements are more popular than negative ones. If that’s the situation I should talk about the beauty of doing safe things. Some old people I know are into bird watching, but I haven’t been able to get into that level of activity yet. I quote one of my favorite sayings occasionally, but people seem annoyed with it.
“When it comes to risk the goal is not to be smart but to avoid being stupid.”