Why does someone stick his neck out and take a risk? What is risk anyway?
One saying that I hear once in a while is: “It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” As someone who has loved and lost, I’m not sure I totally agree with that saying. You put yourself out there and sometimes you get your head chopped off. If rejection is the worst that can happen, then maybe the risk is worth it. But what about the damage to your self-esteem, to your ability to love in the future, to your reputation? Maybe none of these matter if the object of your love is worthy.
There’s that word, “Worthy”, the root of the word “Worship”. But would it be right to *worship* another human being? But I digress…
I’m thinking about risk today. I’m coming to believe that life without significant risk is not worth living. And yet I see a lot of people around me never taking a risk. People who work in a regular job that they hate. People married to a spouse they don’t admire, or don’t love. People with talent and potential who take the easy road. Driving the interstate highway of life in the safe family car, never venturing off the road.
The problem with taking a risk is that, if you miscalculate, or if you are not extremely clear about where you want to end up, you will probably get eaten by the lions and tigers and bears that are just off the interstate.
Several years ago, I decided to quit my high-paying engineering job with a large multinational semiconductor manufacturing company so that I could write novels. I had already written one novel, and another was underway, and I had an idea for a third novel, and I felt it was time to write full time. I had a large savings account, and I calculated that I could get at least one of the novels, maybe two, published before I ran out of money. But I miscalculated. I wasn’t good enough as a writer, or writing fiction was harder than I imagined, or something. And I ran out of money. And I never got any of my novels published.
So I went back to the cube farm of Corporate America and got a “real job” again. But that job nearly killed me. The senior management of the company decided to outsource our work to India, and I ended up on the phone at all hours of the day and night working with the Indians. When I complained about the quality of work of the Indians, and about the impact on our product delivery schedules, I was called a racist. The stress was too much for me, and I quit again. I didn’t get a nice severance package. I got nothing.
I fell back on teaching math at the community college, which I love but which doesn’t pay very well. And now I’m trying to figure out how to survive.
I’m not sure which was the greater risk, leaving the company in the first place and running out of money, or returning to the company and having the life sucked out of me. Risk is a relative thing, I guess.
Which would have been the greater risk to Jesus? Embarking down the road that led to his death? Or remaining a carpenter, or perhaps becoming a Rabbi, either of which he was qualified to do? What would the world have been like if he hadn’t made the choice he made?
Perhaps the greater risk to a man or woman is to stay in our safe little life, comfortable with our six-figure income, doing nothing that can get us eaten by the large nasty forces that are just off the beaten path.