You can ski in any number of safe trails to the bottom. So why would anyone choose to ski down on the difficult black diamond run instead? Most passionate skiers would ask the question differently: why wouldn’t you? The point of skiing isn’t to get to the bottom. The point is how it feels on your way there.
I grew up scaring myself half to death, and was a VIP at my local ER. And this despite my upbringing which basically discouraged medical treatment and put prayer as the first choice in healing. We had nothing against doctors, mind you. We just thought that 80% of our so called “medical issues” were mostly in our heads, included the risk and the fear that came with it. In retrospect, perhaps I should have prayed more.
I have knocked myself out in all manner of way; strong safeties who read the slant and dealt blows to the head at Choate, rollerblading on concrete not meant to descend in Boulder, skiing into iced rock faces in the Pyrenees, and … I’ve stitched myself up after gardening mishaps, dog fights, poorly placed bricks on beach volleyball courts and reconstructed a hamstring after poorly executing a river crossing in a well known trout stream (Penn’s creek I’m lookin at you).
Our current life is usually too safe, and we feel anxious and terrified about things which may be important but really do not threaten our life or integrity, such as a work meeting, going to a party or an exam. I do not have solid scientific evidence for this claim, so please take it with a grain of salt: I think some of our anxieties may be due to absence of a normal exposure to real danger. The same way our bodies need the regular exercise, our brains and bodies may also need a regular normal dose of real fear. That may be one reason for our love of horror and mystery movies, games, haunted houses and other controlled fear experiences.
Reckless endangerment is not what I’m after here. Risk requires upside. And the upside of course needs to be worth the risks taken. I’m wondering why this insight is so hard for us to embrace when it comes to learning or personal engagement or art or the work we do each day?