Friday, March 16, 2007

Risk, Choice and Life's Pathways

Intractable Pathways

Bright stones laid firm
Amongst those dark and cracked
For eternity

Life is a risky business in more ways than you might imagine. Usually we associate risk as related to financial exposure or personal harm and pain. But risk and living goes far beyond the black and white dialog of savings and pain avoidance. Risk is the hidden shadow that directs, guides and determines our destinies. Our relationship with Risk can be closely associated with our beliefs or disbeliefs in the existence of divinity and the infinite mysteries of being. Believing in a Divine being is a personal choice, and all choices are in essence, risk. All of our choices in life represents a degree of risk, and the consequences of our risk taking leads us through our personal and unique pathway of life. No two lives are identical, or even nearly so, and each individual pathway is structured strikingly different than any other. Each built upon choice, risk and result.

Essentially, risk is choice. A person accepts risk of harm by choosing to drive their car in the morning. Many people are injured or killed while commuting to their jobs, but that is not stopping many from working. We choose to work either because we take great satisfaction from our efforts and have a strong desire to face new life choices and risks, or because we need to work to avoid financial risk, or both. Some will argue (effectively) that most people simply take employment as a means to pursue personal interests outside the work domain. This position demands acceptance that life pathways are not pursued on the job, and that one progresses on life’s journey solely outside of the workplace. I would strongly argue this matter simply on the basis of the overwhelming disproportionate amount of time and energy expanded in favor of one’s professional life contrasted to that dedicated to personal time. Point made, so let’s move on.

Risk and choice are encountered more often than casually believed or understood, leading to continuously adjusted life pathways. Success, failure, happiness, joy, disappointment and enlightenment are all encountered and defined along our individual life pathway, during every moment of our lives. Moments tangled with choice and risk resulting in life pathways that transcend time, generations and other pathways.

The successful entrepreneur chose to start his own business and sacrificed an established corporate position after business school. What would have happened if he had taken the job offer with the notional corporate giant? We’ll never know. Maybe he would have met the woman of his dreams and raised a family, stopped climbing the advancement ladder and found eternal joy and happiness. Maybe he would have been struck dead crossing the street on his first day on the job. Life pathways cannot be second guessed because from the moment choice and risk are acted upon the pathway is cast in stone. Each block in our individual pathways is set firmly in place with each passing second for our personal eternities.

The question for each of us is to reflect upon on personal pathways and judge whether or not we find joy and happiness in our pasts and decide upon risks and choices for our futures that we find bright and favorable. Every one of us has decided on pathways that were unwise or destructive at one point or another. The addict took the first needle into the vein. The alcoholic drank the first drink. The coward turned away from his first opponent. The lonely heart said no to the first love. The cancer patient smoked the first cigarette. The list goes on. What were some of your unwise choices?

These examples may be too intuitive because life pathways are in many ways more finite that can be imagined. My point here is at the “smell the flowers along the way” level of understanding must be accepted in the construction of our own pathways. Each human encounter, every sense aroused, every passing moment of consciousness influences choices and risks taken. Being at peace and harmony with our surroundings certainly can assist us with making good choices and taking balanced risks. All of us have made the mistake of bringing anger in to a discussion or argument with someone either in a professional or personal situation. The outcome is always the same, and it is never good. Take a moment to recall such a situation, how you felt beforehand and the outcome. It hurts, doesn’t it?

Moments of peace, understanding and empathy don’t always come easily; they have to be cultivated with great care. Taking walks, gazing upon star filled nights and feeling a breeze on a warm evening enable us and strengthen us to make good choices and risks throughout our lives. Good decisions don’t begin with anger, resentment or revenge. They begin with a clear heart, clean souls and understanding. Since we cannot go back in time we cannot rebuild our individual life pathways, but we can be insistent on building future pathways with balanced choices and risks based upon a foundation of goodness.

Make it be your personal challenge to reflect on the all the choices you have made in your life and risks associated with your decisions. Were you risk averse when time for action was required? Did you take risks that were simply risky, and you lost? What were some of the risks you took that were spot on and led to happiness and joy? How can you prepare yourself for future risk taking that will lead you closer to your dreams and aspirations? How can you interact with others knowing that your life pathway is woven amongst others within your personal infinity?

Our life’s journey leads us to our own personal destiny. Our choices along the way leave an indelible pathway that exists for eternity. In essence, this is our soul, and it has been touched in some way by countless other souls and will touch and affect countless others, forever. Learn from past experiences, visualize your present and future pathways knowing that yours is not yours alone. It is all that has ever been, and all that will ever be. Perhaps it is part of the Holy Spirit that we hear as the wind rushes through the leaves of a tree. Perhaps it is our communion with God.


Bobo said...

I am taking a risk by not reading past paragraph 4 of this long post and perhaps missing out on some key piece of esoteric importance. Knowingly.

Gadabout Jack said...

Bobo, you are not taking a risk. Heck, it didn't make much sense to me when I first wrote it.