I’m talking with an elderly man who has always been a physical risk taker, so extremely much so that he is convinced that it is genetic and that he has the gene or genes for this kind of behavior. This risk-taking has led to great accomplishments but also to innumerable injuries, both more and less dreadful, some with irreversible and dire consequences.
“I’m still a risk-taker,” he says. Together we get to the idea that both thinking and feeling are risk taking activities that many people avoid because they represent threats to their senses of stability and security. If you think, if you feel, you may not turn out to be quite who you took yourself to be. If you think, if you feel, the world around you, including those nearest and dearest, may turn out to be different than you thought. You can sustain thought and feeling injuries that can be as crippling as physical injuries.
Of course, if you do not think and feel, as if you do not move, there are opportunity costs. You lose out on opportunities that may heal and help, even inspire, as well as on those that may hurt. Opportunity costs are extremely hard to characterize, because
this side of realization opportunities are by definition imponderable. To live with an open horizon is not simple, but is a fundamental freedom.
Until this conversation, I had not thought to put mental daring next to physical daring.
The two are clearly different, but also share basic features. Security and curiosity meld
to make daring possible both in the physical realm and in the mental realm. I got great pleasure from this conversation because not only did it enrich my understanding of this man, but it provided me with a new light to shine on myself in myself. I’m still an explorer without a finished map.