One of the big ideas that we discuss in Writing Through workshops is taking risks:
What is a risk? Are there good and bad risks? How do you decide if a risk is good or bad and how do you choose what to do? When choosing, when do you listen to the advice of others, and when do you listen to yourself? Can not taking a risk be a risk, also?
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. So many of my conversations now highlight the fact that if the pandemic is showing us anything, it is that our lives are made up of daily decisions about what risk to take and what not. Of course if we were honest with ourselves we would know that this has always been the case, and yet the odds seem so much higher today, so much harder to calculate. Do you go to the grocery store or do without your morning berries? Do you take a walk with a friend just for the fun of it? Do you wear a mask outside, or what about if you are inside and alone but not in your own home? Do you visit your elderly parent, your newborn grandchild? Do you fly, stay in a hotel, use a public bathroom? Do you take a brand new vaccine? Each risk opportunity comes with its own set of questions. How great is the risk and how do you even calculate that? How important is any individual activity, and when you add it together with the day’s list of other risky activities, does its importance shrink or grow? Are the decisions I am making now the same as the ones I would have made ten years ago, or last year, or even yesterday? This pile of daily decisions looks more and more to me like a mountain, looming, shadowy, overwhelming.
And.what about regret?
I don’t have any answers for this blog post, only questions. But I do know that I have been afraid many times in my life, yet I have often (not always) forced myself to overcome those fears in order to do something which I knew was a risk, but was a risk worth taking. It is almost Christmas now and half of my family, the half that I rarely get to see, lives on the other side of the continent. We just brought up the luggage which had been gathering dust in our basement. The plane tickets have been bought, along with the masks, face shields, antiseptic wipes. Our pre- and post- travel CoVid tests have been scheduled. Everyone from the CDC, to the State Governor, to worried friends and siblings tells us not to go. Am I afraid? Yes, I am. But still, I’m going, so far. Unless tomorrow I decide otherwise.