What is there about risk

Lee Gass

What is there about risk and uncertainty that fire the sources of creativity and call upon us to perform our very best? There is something general and very special about the edges of experience, where we have seldom or never walked before and can only dream and imagine and anticipate what will occur. Energy and life and eternal newness spring from these places.

I live most of my life well back from the possibility of failure, whether from ingrained habit, laziness, fear, or lack of opportunity. But so many times when I plunge headlong into the void, following paths that do not exist for me until I create them by moving through the world, I tap into wellsprings of energy for living whose outpourings sustain me through the relatively dry and featureless plains of my ordinary days and nights.

Risk. Danger. Uncertainty. What I think of as risk is similar to something else, and something else, and something else; something so fundamental that it is central in the lives of all living beings. Risk represents an uncertain difference between what is sure and true, and what lies beyond. Risk is a difference between the path of minimum possibility of failure and some other path that leads outward, away from ways that comfort and into the realm of the unknown void, where something entirely new and wonderful may be discovered.

What does it mean that we have always the choice to take the untrodden path? For most of us as we travel the relatively safe avenues of our own lives, and for the rest of the living world, for whom the difference between what is safe and what may be better is often absolute?

There must be many circumstances in which it is best to minimize risk. I want to explore that larger and more typical region of experience in which the best pathway is somewhere beyond that which guarantees lack of failure. What are the rules of this game? Just how may I balance big losses against the slim distant glimmer of the big winnings which many fools have seen and followed to their demise, and survive?

Lee Gass August, 1980