Look Before you (Don’t Bother to) Leap (if You Can’t See the Point in Leaping)
I’m pretty risk averse I think.
I once went rock climbing. All carabinered up, roped, helmeted and ready to go. As I began to scramble up the first bit of rock, I thought…Why? Why would I do this? I could wind up with a head injury and a life-time of regret. What is good, fun or enjoyable about climbing up a sheer rock face? Why would anyone do that?
So I abseiled back down the few metres I had climbed and sat and ate chocolate and waited for the others to have their fill of achievement – or whatever it was they were climbing towards.
Every time I get on a plane, I imagine the worst. I imagine a mid-air mayday and the subsequent panic. I think of the advice you are supposed to ignore – and remembering that when everyone else says “Brace Brace” you are supposed to elbow your way to the door and get out of it. Even with all the psychological torment, I decide – every time – that the flight is worth it. It would be worth it. I wouldn’t have decided to go on the plane if it wouldn’t be worth it. I am right with my God and fellow man. I can go out with a bang, if a bang is on the horizon.
I am alright with my own death. It is the manner of the dying that is the issue.
But then the whole thing becomes more complicated when you add children into the mix. When do they have the capacity to assess risk? When they roll their eyes 🙄 and say, “Yeah, but I am, like, x years old, mum…” – apparently that is supposed to mean something … They can assess their own risk, they say. But that is the risk I can’t bear to take.
I began with the worry that the baby would be stood on, have tea spilled on it, or would fall down the stairs. I would worry that the toddler might swallow something, put something round its neck or walk into the road. I worry that the child might slip on the bathroom floor, fall off a scooter, fall out of bed, cross a road thoughtlessly… and suddenly my whole life is about accounting for the risks that my children are taking: should I censor their reading and watching? Should they play inside or outside? When are they old enough, wise enough, responsible enough? When can they let go of my hand? How high is too high?…
Apparently, I will always worry. I try to let them take ‘managed’ risks. I don’t mind if they get a fright when something goes wrong – but I’d hate for them to be hurt.
On balance, I take the risks when it would be worth it, even if it all went wrong. I don’t take many, but I have plenty of risk to assess nonetheless.