Ryan recently wrote his first blog about sports and ended it with a sentence “After all, what is life without risk?” One of my dear friends, after reading his blog wanted to know what risks he had taken in his life thus far. Like a good publicist, I forwarded the question to the almost seven year old author, and smiled at him patronizingly expecting him to shrug and say ‘I don’t know!’ I thought he had written that line because it sounded good as a conclusion to his blog. He was quiet for a while and then came up with this “When Mrs._ asks us the spelling of a word I don’t know, I hear the sounds and try to guess the spelling. I raise my hand to give it a try, I take a risk then! My teacher always praises us for taking risks. When I balance on a log to go across a stream, I get scared I may fall, but I still try. And when I can do it, I feel very good about myself. That is taking risk. I didn’t know if I could swim a mile in the swim team practice, but I volunteered to do it anyway. I took a risk. Are these good examples?” I was amazed. These are not just good examples, they are great examples.
Taking risks begin when they let go of our fingers for the first time and enter the gates of preschool. What a huge risk that is, to leave the comfort of mom, home and everything familiar for the first time to go to a structured environment of work and play. Taking risks doesn’t
stop there, every new thing they try in their young lives is taking a chance, be it answering a question they are not sure about, in front of a room full of peers, diving off the block in the deep end of the pool, walking the halls of dreaded middle school at age eleven or navigating through the rocky roads of adolescence. But they do it, fearfully at first, and then with confidence, taking chances and growing a little bigger with each success.
I was happy he didn’t turn around and ask me “What risk are you taking in your life, Mom?” I wouldn’t have an answer for him. What chances am I taking these days? My partner in crime is trying to make a difference in the world, I tell myself I am keeping his world together so he can do his job well. That is my contribution to the world, vicariously, but that doesn’t seem convincing enough in my own mind any more.
I am considering bungee jumping on my next birthday. And just so you know, I am afraid of heights.