Risk has been on my mind for a while now and when I initially sat down to write about it, I had sketched a neat little schema in my mind: risks are a good and healthy part of life, wisdom lies in knowing when to take them etcetera etcetera. Well, here I am hundreds of hours later still grasping at the edges of what proved to be a Pandora’s Box bursting with questions, impressions and new perspectives on my own experiences.
Georges Bernanos said, “Hope is a risk that must be run.” For me this statement captures the heart of the matter. Living a life filled with hope is a risky business, but as Anais Nin says the day will come when the risk to remain tight in a bud is more painful than the risk it takes to blossom, or to borrow Soren Kierkegaard’s take on it, “To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily. To not dare is to lose oneself.” For, as Aleksander Solzhenitsyn asks, if one is forever cautious, can one remain a human being?
The imperative to do that which we maybe cannot but long to, to go where we have not yet been, to feel what we have never felt is part of who we are as human beings. I love Pablo Picasso’s way of putting it, “I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.” This statement presents a beautiful union of humility, an adventurous spirit and the implicit realisation that doing the things we were created to is worth it even if we don’t nail it the first time. Audre Lorde’s words could just as well have been my own, “I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood.”
And if we are bruised, misunderstood or overwhelmed with that greatest of dissapointments, namely in ourselves, it is important to take a leaf out of Theodore Isaac Rubin’s book, “I must learn to love the fool in me the one who feels too much, talks too much, takes too many chances, wins sometimes and loses often, lacks self-control, loves and hates, hurts and gets hurt, promises and breaks promises, laughs and cries.”