which is better, risk or predicatability?

judsoncarroll4 Posts: 5,353 admin

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.


  • shllnzl
    shllnzl Posts: 1,816 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Your friend's father is one of the silent heroes holding society together. That type of hero gets neither recognition or glory. The wife and family failed him. He is either naturally reclusive or he withdrew from the family's activities. It is possible that he is reclusive AND very indulgent of loved ones. It is also possible that he truly loved his work and got most of his satisfaction that way. He needs to develop fun things to do in retirement.

    In an ideal situation, most of us play with different interests when we are young, settling down to just a few as we age. My brother-in-law was a high school music teacher for over 30 years and had award winning marching bands. He raised a family in the meantime. Now he is retired in another state, conducting a big band that is generating a lot of positive press. Other than relating to family members, he lives and breathes music to this day. He is singularly focused on that one interest. He was blessed to have made a living doing something he loves so much.

    Now me, I mostly followed the rules during my life. I generally played it safe and am rewarded by a decent pension for retirement. During the years that I worked full time and went to school at night, I forgot what hobbies and interests that I had. I was a shell of myself then. Now I have so many interests that I can't keep up with them all (including the subjects shared by TGN.)

    All of us should bravely shoulder the responsibilities that we have. That said, true happiness comes from being the true YOU, not wearing a mask to please others. As long as we are not hurting others, we should all follow the path that seems right for us as individuals.

  • judsoncarroll4
    judsoncarroll4 Posts: 5,353 admin
    edited December 2019
  • shllnzl
    shllnzl Posts: 1,816 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @judsoncarroll4 It is fascinating and often sad to really see the other people around us. I can tell that you lean towards philosophy as I do.

  • SuperC
    SuperC Posts: 916 ✭✭✭✭

    I’ve followed the rules so others see the importance and follow suit. Although, taking risks by means of jumping in with both feet has its rewards. Traveling solo to other countries is self development, and being culturally aware of all that surrounds us is an example. @judsoncarroll4

  • greyfurball
    greyfurball Posts: 591 ✭✭✭✭

    In my family I am pretty much the description of this father. I have always been the one who is laid back, responsive to what I believe my family needs and am always the one first in line to see that it happens to the best of my abilities.

    But I have also been lucky to have an active curious mind. Although I have not got out and about much to "see the world" (even if that is down the street) I can say I have lived through books and now in recent years the internet has helped.

    But most people would describe me as a workaholic, not as much now but for sure when I was a small business owner. But I enjoyed my business. I also was proud of my accomplishments in a very competitive field where I did hold my own and found my own niche that I could survive and thrive. I've never yet heard any employee complain about a day in their life of... at their job either since I did try to be a kind and compassionate boss. But then in the next breath they would also say she never did anything but work.

    So I guess you could say we are all wired different. Yes, I did miss out on the everyday fun and games portion of life but I never felt I was missing out on anything. Yes I did for over 30 years always work over a 100 hour week. Around major holidays it was more than that. So yes I could get tired but I never got bored. My hands, my body and my mind was always in motion but I was also fulfilled with what I did so I have no complaints.

    To the outside observer this gentleman may seem like a total drudge, a bore or any other unglamorous name. But to give him his due, I would be willing to believe he is proud he did accomplish what he believed to be his mission in life and he is also proud of that accomplishment.