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The most important thing for any living being is for it not to do things that will get it taken out of its species’ genetic pool. This is built into the genetics of every living being and isn’t a conscious mental operation available for any species other than humans.

To actively decide to avoid unseen risks requires the kind of thoughts that are available only to humans. We are the only species with the ability to mentally form conceptions of the possible behavior of things in the abstract future.

Thoughts derived from our personal interactions with other humans are the primary method for seeing the future outcome of our actions. These thoughts are derived from our personal experience and meditations combined with personal conversations with our caregivers when young, our interactions with peers when youths, and learning from all sorts of cultural influences at every age.

Unfortunately, there are huge amounts of information presented to modern people via the media and personal conversations that are clearly setting precedents for living a life of unnecessary risk-taking. It became apparent to me this morning in a conversation with my old dudes that even successful old people are doing unnecessarily risky things. Within the last month, two of our crew had taken dangerous bicycle spills. M, who was riding a touring bike, was chasing some kid going full speed on a specialized mountain bike down a steep mountain path when he went over the front bars. He didn’t break any bones at that time.

Strangely, in a totally separate event, S was riding an unfamiliar bike with a shock absorber front suspension which when he hit a hole threw him over the front bars. He too was not seriously hurt. But why are these two retired guys taking these kinds of risks?

One person, whom I only encountered personally once, was killed two days later in an “accident” that was tempting fate. And a twenty-year-old whom I have spent an hour or so with about six times is now in a cast from an “accident”. My problem with all of these dangerous physical encounters with reality is that each of these people is among the saner and physically healthy people I know.

There is an outdoor culture here in Bend that encourages interactions with nature. That is fine, but that doesn’t mean one must challenge nature to the limits of one’s ability to survive. That is especially true when the actions have no other purpose than to seek pleasure and to take an occasionally thrilling risk.

Being a member of this community I wonder what dangerous false beliefs are leading me astray too.

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