She said, “You need a vacation. A little get away from things…”
“Actually, no,” I replied. “I’m living in a get-away spot every day. I wake up to a view over the water. I watch the sunset every evening. I’m four miles away from the beach. I can walk every day without layers of clothes. I don’t live for July and August only. I don’t feel the breath of winter once September rolls around. Financially, I’m 60 percent poorer each year and environmentally, a million percent richer. With all the challenges, pain and risk we face, I find solace in this simple escape of mine.”
Living is hard and dangerous. The earth is a perilous place, and even in the most mundane things, there is risk.
Risk is with us constantly in the decisions we make and in the ones we don’t.
Risk is in the meals we eat.
It’s in alarms we set and the batteries we forget to change.
It’s in the jobs we take, in the ones we pass up, and in those we quit.
The environments we destroy and in those we preserve.
In the things we relish and those we resist.
It’s in the greetings and hellos and the goodbyes and farewells.
In the service to others and the times of solitude.
It’s in the relationships we cultivate and the ones we don’t.
Risk is in the spouses we choose.
The children we raise.
The skateboards and bicycles our children ride and the cars they drive.
No matter how strategically we prepare for all contingencies, we can never truly escape risk. All we can do is assess, analyze, manage, mitigate, and pray.
Sometimes that risk management means letting go of what society says we must hold on to and
what financial gurus declare is necessary for creating a safety net. Even safety nets break. Occasionally, too, when we fall, we fall outside of the nets. How many people do you know and how many stories have you heard of people who work forever in jobs they hate, longing only for retirement, to then fall critically ill, or have their lives be cut short?
What is it that you’re putting off for some future that may never be yours? What risks are you taking in the delay? What regrets will you have if it becomes too late to take the chance?
When it comes to our loved ones, we must keep loving and grant them the freedom for which they crave and clamor.
Always, managing relational risk means not possessing any hold on others. Instead, it means allowing them the freedom to make their own mistakes, to feel the stings of life that’s inherently theirs, and to find the revelations and joys that only they can discover. These things are their rights and their rights of passage. When we don’t let go, we create prisons for those we love, and we crush them or cause them to fight to break free of the restrictions they do not wish to embrace.
And as I pen this, I’m assuming risk by laying on the sand, in the sun, under that majestic blanket of blue with all those invisible ozone holes, and the intensified radiation they route my way.
Simultaneously though, I’m managing risk with free environmental therapy, which is also emotional and spiritual therapy for those secret places lying deep beneath SPF 50 and now blackening skin.
While I write, warm golden sand exfoliates deadened layers even as it relaxes muscles and soul. The unity of 72 degrees and the gentle breeze is reminiscent of the perfect love of a mother for her newborn sons, the feel of their skin nestled against her own, and all the hopes and aspirations for their lives birthed with rich promise. And the waves repeat their dance with the shore, each one trying to reach and kiss toes laying just beyond their stretch. Then, reluctantly each is pulled back but with rising prayers that brother wave now birthing will make it to shore wash feet and their cares away.
Risk is the heartbeat of life. We can’t live if we do not embrace risk. At the same time, what good are the systolic and diastolic rhythms if the heart does not contain them?
Containing risk looks very similar for most of us. Insurance plans, emergency savings funds, umbrella policies, and so on are typical. But for some of us, I dare say all of us, risk management should also include some transfer and exchange, some escape from the inescapable, and hefty amounts of what money cannot secure.
The risk management plan should include then, limitless love, forgiveness, empathy, care, and service through the extension of heart and hand to all with whom we have the privilege of sharing this earth. Cups genuinely runneth over this way. All cups. Yours and mine.
And so I turn to my usual get-away spot, my place of less but of so much more and say to the omnipotence of the heavens, “Thank you for managing me.”
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