Risk Management

I have never been a risk taker. I do not like pain or discomfort of any kind — not taunts, not scoldings, not broken bones, not cuts, not illness. For most of my life, my adventures were the literary kind, and oh, I was intrepid. Actually, that’s not true. I never identified as the hero. I was always sort of a companion, analyzing the risks and trying to figure out how not to have gotten into the scrapes the character did, and thinking about how I would get myself out the situation.

The habit of analyzing risks followed me into real life. For example, although I had no aptitude for dancing when I was young and there was no way for me to take dance classes, I’d still decided at a young age that dancing wasn’t for me. I didn’t want the foot pain and bleeding toes, the horrendous hours of work, and all the rest that goes into being a dancer. I still don’t want any of that. As dedicated as I am about taking dance classes now, at the first sign of debilitating pain (other than the muscle aches from too many plies), that will be it.

Even before I fell and broke my arm, I’d fall-proofed wherever I lived — stayed away from area rugs, made sure the night time trek from bed to bathroom was completely open. Now I have bars in the bathtub, but I’d always been careful getting in and out of the shower, been especially careful picking up soap if I dropped it because I knew that’s how and where most home injuries occurred.

How did I know all this? I have always been a researcher. And I think things through and rethink things to the point of overthinking.

That being said, the truth is, there is no way to avoid risk. Many terrible things have happened to me over the years, from being held up at gunpoint, to having to deal with devastating grief when Jeff died, and most recently, the destruction of my arm. Everything bad that has ever happened to me has happened in the city, sometimes even when I was with someone else.

If I were still with Jeff, or if I hadn’t had to deal with the horrors of grief, my adventurous spirit might never have been kindled, but now the wild woman in me is struggling to get out. I have an inordinate desire to live. To experience. To be. To become.

I realize this call to adventure (whatever the adventure might be) involves more risks than reading in bed (though I have known people who broke hips when they fell out of bed), but all I can do is minimize the risks. As I have always done, I research ways to be safe, I imagine myself in precarious situations, learn what others have done and what I would do to get out of them. Even following a well established trail, it’s easy to get lost (as many people have discovered too late), but my years of venturing into the nearby desert have taught me to mark the way back to the trail if I have to leave it, to pay attention to my tracks (and the tracks of other creatures).

I make sure my cell phone is fully charged, and I am always wary, never acting as if I am in a safe place, though the truth is, I am safer wandering in the desert than I am in the city. (A lot safer than driving, that’s for sure!) The most dangerous thing I do is cross a street. I’m not joking here. To get to the dance studio, I have to cross one of the busiest and most dangerous intersections in town where six roads with multiple lanes meet, cars going all directions, and no cross walk. (Sometimes I jaywalk, which is safer, unless I’m caught, and then I face an $80 fine).

I have driven cross country alone, hiked in national parks and wild places alone. I have camped alone. It’s not as if I have no experience being alone in potentially dangerous places, but still, people worry about me.

Don’t get me wrong — I appreciate the concern. I really do. It’s pleasing — and comforting — to know that people care. Lately, though, so many people have cautioned my about putting myself at risk, that I’m getting scared. And I don’t want to be.

Of course I’m at risk, and I will be at even greater risk when I take my trip in May, but so what? I can’t live my life in fear of something bad happening to me. I take more than reasonable precautions, but I will not be bounded by fear, mine or anyone else’s. If something happens, will it be worse than Jeff dying? Will it be worse than being held up at gunpoint? Will it be worse than destroying my arm? Will it be worse than living in fear? Will it be worse than stagnating, worse than squandering this opportunity of freedom where I am still healthy enough to go where adventure calls, worse than squandering myself?

I understand that terrible things could be waiting for me out there, and if any of those things happen, I’ll deal with it then.

But think of this. What if I can handle whatever comes as I have always done? What if nothing bad happens? What if something wonderful is waiting for me if I only have the courage to grab hold of adventure and life?

So yes, please worry about me, but don’t forget to encourage me, too. I need both.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

22 Responses to “Risk Management”

  1. LordBeariOfBow Says:

    If we worried about taking any risks, then we might as well turn up our toes so go for it, have fun 😀

  2. Wanda Hughes Says:

    This puts me in mind of when I went to Australia for 3 months. I drove a Ute while I was there and you know, they drive on the wrong side of the road there. 🙂 Anyway, while getting gas one day, a Hunter spider dropped down from the door frame onto the floor in front of me! I levitated into the other side of the auto, really, levitated. Then I went to look for the darn thing to get rid of it. It was no where to be seen. It couldn’t have gotten out. Logical conclusion was that it climbed into the area under the dashboard. We couldn’t find it or flush it out so there it stayed. I had to drive to a town about 70 miles away….feet right under that dashboard area. I finally talked myself into doing by reassuring myself that Hunters aren’t poisonous, don’t often bite and so I would be fine. I told myself this, out loud, actually. “This is something I can do and I will live through it. I’ll be scared but even if the worst happens I’ll survive. If he drops onto my foot I’ll be calm and pull over. I’ll be fine.” And so I was. And we never found that monster. But I survived and I wouldn’t have gotten to see Colac if I hadn’t went ahead.

    Pat, you can do anything you put your mind to and I believe you will be safe. If something happens you will handle it with your usual aplomb. Your attention to detail and thinking scenarios through (something I do, too. I suspect most writers do that.) is a great strength in minimizing risk. Most people get into trouble because they don’t think of the things that can go wrong.

    So travel, hike, drive, dance and read in bed. You’re going to be just fine, no matter what slings and arrows of outrageous fortune are sent your way.

    See you in the spring! Until then, sister, keep writing.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Ah, thank you, my sister from another mother. You have always been my biggest supporter, both emotionally and in actuality. Those months I spent with you are some of my treasured moments.

    • LordBeariOfBow Says:

      I assure you we do not drive on the wrong side of the road. I think perhaps you meant a Huntsman Spider, they are beautiful creatures and quite harmless, We get them in our houses but I’ve never heard of them in a car or ute, perhaps it was one of our more deadly species, we have several :twisted:, so perhaps you got lucky. I can’t understand how the town was 70 miles away we work on the metric system, Are you sure you were in Oz?
      I see mention of Colac, well we do have a town by that name down in Victoria about 150 kilometres from Melbourne, now all I need to do is check that they don’t have a Colac 150 km (93·2056 miles – thought I’d save you the trouble 👿 from Melbourne Florida to be completely confused 😀 😛 🐻 🐱

      • Pat Bertram Says:

        We folks in the USA always convert to miles. How else are we to know relative distances?

        • LordBeariOfBow Says:

          Each time I’ve been to the states and asked how far it was to someplace or other I was aways met with the reply about half an hour or 45 minutes, nobody seemed to know how far anything was just how long it takes to get there. Very odd 😛
          I know you drive on the right sidee of the road, you keep right which is pretty dangerous really,
          We Anglo Saxons keep to the left and sit in the right hand seat to drive, this leaves our right arm free to wield our swords, lances or ax’s when we go into battle 😈 😀 😛

  3. Carol Says:

    I understand the worry that comes from having loved ones take risks, but at the same time I believe our lives are our own to live. Not everyone needs to feel challenged or be exhilarated by extreme accomplishments, but some do. If they aren’t being foolhardy but have done their research and made sensible preparations (as I know you have), then there’s no reason not to be supportive.

    I’ve never been particularly adventuresome, but with the passing of years I notice an increase in my “so much to do but so little time left” attitude. However, it’s not in me to start scrambling to accomplish things so much as to make the most of the ‘dailyness’ around me. I suspect fulfillment and contentment are different for everyone. 🙂

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      In my case, I just want to experience the world in a more intimate way before it’s too late. Making the most of the dailyness around you is quite an adventure! I once lived some place where I had only a third of a mile road to hike on, so I did laps on that road, paying particular attention to all the details, and it never got boring. If you can’t go macro, go micro!

  4. Constance Says:

    Go for it. Enjoy!

  5. Jan Says:

    To put it succinctly, “Expect the worse, hope for the best” We will always be concerned about you as you pursue your wanderlust but trust that you know what you are doing!

  6. Terry Allard Says:

    From the get go,I have expressed “you go for it” support because I care too! After reading this blog I am wondering what you envision seeing,feeling,thinking as you make your way through this experience. Some others have stated it should be at least constant caution and as time goes on, mostly fear since just because something didn’t go wrong this afternoon doesn’t mean it won’t tonite! When you successfully end your adventure they will likely state you just got “lucky”! Bravo for choosing NOT to pack that mantra… so again I ask what are you looking to see,feel,think,wonder about? I picture in your hands a little notebook of these things… like a nature guidebook….and as you hike you’ll find them plus even more you never thought of listing!!

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      You ask good questions, and I’ve been thinking about them all morning. I’m not sure I’m looking for anything specific. A feeling, of course, though I don’t know what that feeling might be. An experience, for sure, though I don’t know what that experience might be. Maybe to see the world and my place in it from a different point of view. To surprise myself or to have the world surprise me, perhaps. Mostly, I just want to go with a mind open to whatever might filter through, to live in the moment without expectation. Honestly, though, I’m not sure I will find anything. So often when I think something will be a transformative experience, by the time I get there, I discover that the transformation has already happened. It will be interesting to see what happens this May.

  7. Kathy Says:

    There are people who do things alone and those who don’t and are horrified of the idea of anybody doing it alone.

  8. petersironwood Says:

    When I was about 10, my parents move to a new house with plenty of woods and fields to hike in. There was a short cut way to walk to school that took me through a field of beautiful wildflowers. The only problem was that those flowers were filled with bees and even plenty of wasps. I was terrified to walk through, but it was so much longer to walk around. Out of nowhere, it occurred to me that it was much worse to be terrified of bees than it was to get an actual bee sting. Sure, they’re no fun. (I’m not allergic). But it only hurts around where they sting you. The fear debilitates you everywhere. I decided then and there not to be afraid of the bees any more. I was careful not to anger them unnecessarily. I was “polite” if you will. But I just accepted that — yes — maybe I would get stung. But, by the way, I never did (at least not on that short cut). Anyway, I thought you might like a couple of my blog posts: “Ripples” which argues that are personal choices have long-last impacts eventually even impacting how our species evolves. “Math class: Who are you?” argues that most of what makes us US is actually outside of our own skin. https://petersironwood.wordpress.com/2017/04/11/ripples/


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