Thursday, January 20, 2011

Is life worth the risk?

Risk. I think this word is fascinating because it is both a noun and a verb. Risk in one's life, therefore can be either a passive or intentional thing.

If I do not pay attention to the fuel gauge in my car, I run the risk of running out of gas. It is avoided by taking an alternate action.

But sometimes risk isn't  just incurred by failing to act; it IS a course of action, and that's when life can become really interesting. And just because the English language is so wonderfully complex, even risk as an action  is comprised of different, sometimes subtle meanings.

Risk without consideration of the consequences is throwing caution to the wind - like the compulsion of spending one's last fifty bucks at the casino instead of buying food. Often in this kind of risk, one lacks the  possession of clear, rational thought or self control, and behaves recklessly.

When one takes a calculated risk it is usually a deliberate, well planned, well thought out process. But even that can be done for different reasons. A wealthy business person may risk a small fortune on a business venture:  If it fails, the loss, while disappointing, ultimately lacks the ability to have significant negative impact, while its success would be a wonderful bonus. This is about the closest thing to a best of both worlds scenario that exists. Nothing ventured, nothing gained!

Sometimes one 'takes the plunge' and even though the action was thought out and the consequences considered, it is done because there is an underlying sense that little choice exists but to give it a go, see what happens, and hope for the best. Having things turn out well under these circumstances is the ultimate satisfaction, while the alternative can be completely devastating.

I think for the most part, I have played my life pretty safely. It has had all the makings of a very conservative investment portfolio. No big surprises. I can pinpoint only a couple of times in 46 years where I have actually taken risks that will change the entire course of my life. One paid off quite nicely.

The other? I hope to write about it someday. It is still in play.

Will I regret it? Quite possibly, but I have no choice and the unknown that would haunt me forever because of inaction would ultimately be the biggest disappointment of my life.

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