My son risked being late for the bus this morning in order to check the computer to see if the SAT scores were in. They were. After a bit of whooping and hollering this morning over seeing his second set of SAT scores (he scored a 700 in Reading), I reminded him that his first grade teacher, Miss Wackenhuth, had told me at a parent teacher conference (long ago), "Lauren, Alexander is a very smart little boy." And you never disagree with someone named Miss Wackenhuth.
Alex has a world of choices opening up to him, now that he is a senior in high school and soon to "go out" into this world. It's an exciting thought and its overwhelming as well. We are not always ready for grand opportunities or pivotal appointments with destiny. Yet they are heading our way, ready or not.
Which reminds me that I want to clarify something. Don't get me wrong about my crazy college years and my year spent in Spain. While they were the worst of times- of inner conflict and constant seeking, they were the best of times too. I got to go out into the world, discover what I didn't know, embrace what I needed, choose wrongly and then wisely, and eventually learn to throw away what brought me down. I learned a lot through trial and error and error and error. I got to do all that, feel confused and happy, drink lots of coffee, and race around like nothing would ever slow me down. I got to feel young and alive, feel lost and afraid, and look magnificently strong on the outside, as well. Youth is meant to be wasted on the young.
But what is wasted on the mature? What do we older, wiser, sensible people do that is akin to the youth wasting their strength and their time? I think we waste opportunities because we won't risk. We don't like to take a risk anymore. After all, risk sounds like frivolous selfishness or arrogant stupidity. Risk reminds us we could slip and fall down. And might not feel like getting up again.
I will take risks, but up to a certain point. And then it all starts to feel...rather risky. That's when I usually will draw back. Take a step back to Safety or Security. Remind myself of my age. I'll remember those college days of uncertainty and remind myself how much I hate to feel afraid or on shaky ground. As if what I feel is the main indicator of what I should do.
I just don't think I am risking enough, lately. Maybe you're not either. Try naming five things you are taking a risk on, right now. Okay, how about just three things? Get my point? (If you do have a long list of risky endeavors, please re-evaluate why you have sooo many. That is an indicator of something else!)
Some say Faith is spelled R-I-S-K and I am beginning to think this is true. Yes, it's "the expectation of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" but if you were to sum it all up, faith is risk. Faith involves taking action that may or may not yield the evidence you hope for. You could wind up with the road dropping out from beneath you or the wind taking your boat out to sea. Or then again, you could just stay by the shore, your little boat tied to the post, and your life jacket on, with nothing in the horizon to make you yearn for more.
A mother risks every time her teenager steps out into the world. A writer risks every time she writes the truth of what she feels and knows. An explorer risks every time they leave home for a place like Everest or Timbuktu.
Taking a risk comes with taking a mountain, or subduing an enemy, or celebrating in the face of the ordinary. It isn't just in your college years that you are making life changing decisions that affect your future well being. It's right now that you could miss the adventure. It's right now that I could draw back. I could worry about missing a stupid school bus and miss a celebration over a big success at a young age.
Or I could risk it. Whoop it up now, celebrate my son's success, and then run around grabbing lunches and uniforms, and send my kids off running down the driveway to the approaching bus, yelling, "You can do it!!"
Now all I have to do is shower and dress, meet Mu for breakfast, and discuss coming up with a plan that yields enough risky behavior that I know I'm alive...and kicking.