I took a tiny little risk yesterday, by deciding to see my niece’s school musical. This wasn’t much of a risk, but it inspired me to write about risks, so I’m including it. The musical, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, was actually amazingly good — such a group of good actors with great voices. I had a wonderful time; I am so glad I went.
I have consciously made very bad choices, really scary choices, as I know everyone has. Taking a risk is a completely personal choice, and we’ve all faced them. Here are a couple of mine:
I was in my twenties, living on the plains east of Colorado Springs, Co. I was married to a decent man, who supported my desire to go back to school; I was enrolled at Pike’s Peak Community College, taking business courses in the afternoon and early evening. I went to my car one afternoon, just as it started to snow. By the time I was two miles out of the city, the snow had become a blizzard, and it didn’t take very long for me to run off the road into a shallow ditch.
Now, I had been warned a dozen times to stay put in a blizzard; told of people who had frozen to death between their garages and their homes. Many farmers and ranchers strung rope from building to building, so as not to wander. I decided, since I had seen a single business about 1/4 mile before, I would put on my heavy coveralls and make that walk, following the road as well as I could. I made it without too much trouble; I stepped off the road a couple of times, but never more than a step or two. When I arrived at the building, and got inside and began to warm up, I started to think about the risk I’d taken –either stay in the car, or risk dying in the blizzard. I had made a bad choice. The risk did not match the reward.
Other times, though:
I was just coming out of my most recent psychiatric hospital stay. The psychiatrist never met with me, except to walk into my room and say something like You don’t need to be here, you need to smarten up. He probably said it more kindly, but that was the general message. When I got home, my first job was to find a psychologist. I was tired of counseling with people who only said Well, how does that make you feel? I had no idea how to choose a psychologist.
I think I told a partial lie/partial truth about this story somewhere in this blog — oops! I wish I’d told the truth the first time. I opened my phone book to the page which listed psychologists; I closed my eyes, and pointed. I needed four times to hit the psychologist section, but my finger landed on the psychologist who did me so much good.
I think I was a little embarrassed to admit that I found her that way. In fact, I do a lot of things that way: name pets, choose aliases, others. Back to the story:
So, I stopped and thought a lot about choosing this psychologist. This was a big risk, and the results meant either help, or more wasted time. I only waffled for seconds, and then I made up my mind to take the risk. I picked up the phone and called.
This choice was more serious than the first, and at least I stopped and considered the consequences. (for a second or two.) But there has been a third type of risk in my life, one which happened recently. You already know about it, even though I haven’t named it. The choice to be unhappy, or happy. For years I answered one way; then I risked everything and chose the other way, and, in the words of Robert Frost, …that has made all the difference.