Monday, July 25, 2011

The View from my Bicycle [COLUMN]

Risk Averse - by Nick van der Leek

There are some among us who are suffering terribly, and their suffering is all a secret.  It's silent.  Tears are shed into pillows.  I realised this recently when I walked on the beach with a woman I barely knew.  She's a 40-year-old virgin.  I was curious about her life, and her way of thinking, so we had an in-depth chat about her personal history.  I was astounded to discover that not only is she a virgin, but she's never kissed anyone, not even held hands.  This from a very functional, apparently intelligent, and actually quite nice woman. 

Now there are certainly times, in high school, and in South Korea, where I have felt sorry for myself.  I've had excuses, or thought I've had.  But as it turns out, the biggest impediment to our happiness is ourselves.  Our own thoughts.  Our own judgements about ourselves.  I am the same; especially when I am out of shape.  I'm sure many of us are.

I had a major paradigm shift a few weeks ago.  I think it was Pasella, where a man, blind, and with no hands, was interviewed.  He was happily married to a beautiful nurse, living in a pleasant home with a few children.  He had awful lacerations [scars] on his face.  I felt my jaw drop, and held a hand over my open mouth.  Because in seeing this deformed man, I saw someone who had still found the courage to believe in himself enough to love another.  More important, I immediately felt reality press heavily on me: what's your excuse?

Crazily enough, just a few weeks after that realisation I [reluctantly] went to a bar with a few friends. My jacket was dirty, it was cold and I was tired from a long day spent running after echoes of the artist Vader Claerhout, and I didn't feel dishy at all.  For the past few weeks I've been feeling sluggish and heavy. But I quickly spotted a very hot poppie, and tried to come up with a one-liner.  I must have had a very serious look on my face.  In any event, my friends grew impatient, and offered to introduce us.  She took my number and we saw each other the next day, and the next.  The rest, is history...and history continues to be made.   But that's how easy it can be.

In my life, I have been very risk averse.  I suppose to some extent I still am.  But, looking around me, I see many more people who are trapped in prisons of insecurity.  It's fear, more than anything else.  Many people are shit scared of taking a chance.  There are no guarantees in life, but I can guarantee you this: if you do nothing, nothing will happen.
Life is filled with 'mistakes' and problems.  Whether or not we dare to do anything, we're likely to experience unexpected pain as well as pleasure.  By manufacturing our own risks, by taking action, you venture confidently and assertively to results that you are ready to respond to, and you get better at anticipating life's knocks.

Fact is, there isn't really any genuine security in the world.  Money can't buy it.  It can buy some peace of mind.  There is some security, and peace, and joy, in leading a life well lived.  In stepping into the moment.  In stepping away from ourselves, and our fears, and into the world.  As soon as you do that, you begin to live, and move towards who you truly are, or can become.

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