Life’s Risks

By Tim Hayakawa

Jogging through a park. Swimming in a lake. Driving to work. Visiting Nicaragua. Eating sushi. Sleeping in. Partying late.

Life is full of risks. Virtually everything we do or don’t do could result in adverse consequences — the result of accident, human error, misjudgment, genetics, preexisting condition, random violence, or act of God. Yet, we must face these risks moment by moment each day if we are to expand our potential.

Growing up Yonsei (fourth-generation Japanese American), I was surrounded by an overarching mindset of containment and timidity. Don’t stand out. Conform. Shame to be seen or noticed. Why make waves? Just do your best quietly and let the results speak for themselves.

Good advice, overall, and it has served me well through the years. I have no regrets yet.

But even within a risk-averse personality (less than 15 percent of my discretionary savings are invested in stocks; I can’t stand the thought of losing in a down market), I still try to live as a Dear Abby letter writer once recommended. The 80-year-old described her full, content, life and occasional examples of wild, edge-of-the-seat adventures when she took uncharacteristic risks far beyond her comfort zone — a business opportunity here, a volunteer overseas assignment there. Her one regret in life was that she hadn’t stuffed her life full of these varied out-there experiences to feel she had done it all, taken it all in, and left nothing undone or untried. Too many fun possibilities and worthwhile endeavors had been passed over to play it safe. She had lived an over-safe life.

I feel that I’m headed in her safe, contented direction. I count marrying, having three kids, and participating and leading assorted church events among my stretching experiences. Nonetheless, I remind myself to pursue more often these why-not? out-there behaviors, activities, encounters, and relationships, and now that time is running out, what am I waiting for?

But maybe there is joy, too, in the small things. Cracking open a beer now and then. Or dancing with my wife. Or playing with my kids. Oh yeah, and there’s that upcoming trip to China — and not with a tour group! Wild, I know, wild.

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