Lee’s Stories

Lee’s Stories

home >> Teaching and Learning >> What is there about Risk?
posted on September 9, 2016 | Teaching and Learning, Other
What is there about Risk?

What is there about risk?

What is there
about risk and uncertainty
that fire the sources of creativity and
call upon us to perform our 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, imagine, and anticipate
what will happen.

Energy, life,
and eternal newness spring
from those places.

I live most
of my life well back from
failure, whether from laziness, habit,
fear, or lack of opportunity, and sometimes
fail because of it.  But so many times when I’ve
headlong into the void, following paths
that don’t exist
for me until I create them by
moving through the world,
I tap into well-
springs of energy for living whose
pourings sustain me through the
featureless plains of my
days and

Risk. Danger. Uncertainty.

What I think of
as risk is similar
to something
else, something else,
and something
else, and is central in the lives
of all living
things.  Risk represents uncertain
between what is safe and
sure and
true, and what
lies beyond.

Risk is a difference
between the path of minimum
possibility of failure and some other
that leads outward, away from ways
that comfort
and into the realm of the
unknown void,
where new and
things can occur
any moment.

What does it mean that
we have always the choice to take
the untrodden path?

What does it
mean for most of us as we
travel the paths of our
What does it mean for the
rest of the
living world, where the difference
between what is safe and what
might be better may

There must be
many times when it is best
to minimize risk.  I also want to
explore that larger and more typical
region of experience in which
the path leads beyond.

What are the rules
of this
game? How do I weigh
slim distant
glimmers of
gain against the
of loss?




I wrote this
on the edge of a 500
foot cliff in August, 1980, looking
and listening down into three watersheds
at the same time. 
I was alone in the wilderness
at the end of my last and most productive
hummingbird research season at Grizzly Lake.
The rest of the camp had packed up and left,
carrying as much as they could carry of
our supplies and leaving me alone
with minimal supplies for
the last week. 

My scientific
duties began before first
light and ended around noon.  I
spent another hour in the meadows
after dark, after the birds had retired,
but was free afternoons to explore
my favourite peaks and ridges.

Hard work and
hard play make good sleep.
Good results in meadows, good
experiences on peaks, and time
to think about things make
wonderful weeks.


Edited February 2021

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