I was challenged today on a problem that is always latent in everyday affairs, and that is what I should do with my free time. Should I seek stability or adventure? As my friends were discussing this, and having a good time telling stories of their adventures and misadventures, I was pondering over my life experiences regarding that issue.
I haven’t been one for seeking out dangerous activities for the thrill of it. Mountain climbing was a non-event for me after climbing snow-capped Mt. Hood a couple of days before I graduated from high school and getting a sunburn. The view was great, but when I feel inclined to look for beauty now I can always find things I can appreciate in a few seconds and without the risk of bodily harm.
There are lots of thrilling activities here in my resort hometown of Bend, Oregon, that I don’t participate in, such as rock climbing, skiing, river rafting, deer hunting, drinking … there are lots more, but you get the picture. I don’t take unnecessary risks.
I have taken lots of risks over the years, but I always considered the risk versus benefit. Hitchhiking from Pullman, Washington to New York City and back was a bit risky, and I did have a few difficult situations, but the rewards were enormous. I got to personally meet Eleanor Roosevelt and J. Robert Oppenheimer and several other illustrious people. Choosing to be a US Air Force pilot was about as risky a career choice as is generally available, but the reward of serving my country was clearly worthwhile. Unfortunately, when about to be given responsibility for a few H-bombs to haul around I had a moral problem. Most guys get past that one, but I didn’t and at risk of being jailed resigned from the job I really liked.
During my fifty years in Berkeley, I got into many difficult situations during the demonstrations and walking around in a shouting crowd seemed silly at the time, but we were shouting for Free Speech and that was important. The danger was worth the risk. Voluntarily sliding down steep hills at high speed on a couple of boards for the adrenalin rush-thrill of not getting hurt is utter nonsense to me.
I said these things to my friends, and a few more stories too, and concluded my little sermon with
Go out and struggle for a just cause and you will get plenty of excitement and the good feeling that you are doing something worthwhile.