which is better, risk or predicatability?
Recently, I was reminded of a friend's father. Through his 20s, he enjoyed many things - music, kayaking, rebuilding British sports cars and racing them. In college, as he put it, "I learned everything to know about the human eye." He became an optometrist. Life, as he described it became predictable. The money was very good. His wife was creative and he kind of lived vicariously through here - he made the money while she did the more interesting things. His kids were given everything and every opportunity.... they turned out.. okay, I guess. Life for him became so routine that eventually, he basically faded away... like a robot who just made money... neglected and ignored by the family he supported. His artist wife has a vibrant and independent life in her 70s; he is like a shadow who follows her. His kids who had every advantage, expensive, education, trips to Europe, lavish weddings, never even really knew or liked him. No one will ever champion his cause.... there is no political movement for him... no award or recognition.... he just did the job, 9-5, Mon-Fri, for 45 years.
I've taken many risks in my life. I usually say, "When I came to two paths diverging, I didn't take the one less taken.... I grabbed a machete and blazed my own." I have failed so many times. I don't t know that he ever failed. He always chose the more stable, responsible path. He learned everything in college. There is no way I could ever learn more than a fraction of what there is to learn about soil, plants, animals and making food (and, what I learned in college about journalism and economics doesn't cut it). On the one hand, I have so much respect for him that he sacrificed his passions to provide for a family. I may never have wealth or a family. But the "forgotten man" is a man still because of the legacy he leaves.
Thinking of my old friend's dad, though.... while I respect him, I would never wish to have a life like his. Granted, I could learn many lessons from him. His quiet suffering and endurance is a model of the very stoic masculinity on which much of life and civilization is built - duty first, family first, responsibility. The fact that his wife and kids never really respected him makes his sacrifice almost saintly. But, that isn't a life I could embrace. God gave me a spark.... all my life, I have tried to turn that spark into fires... and just pray for the best. Some people have a fire that can burn just barely, slowly, with low but consistent heat.... others burn hot and burn out.... I guess I'm somewhere in the middle. Few, if any lives lack tragedy... but I suppose I'd prefer the ups and downs to a flat line.