Risk/Reward

Breaking free of our bonds can send us soaring. Or it can make us crash hideously. Sometimes the same experiment or adventure can lead to both results, and sometimes that can happen in short shrift. Hubris leads, often enough, to overreaching and all manner of unrealistic expectations and lets us take stupid risks, if we get too caught up in our dreams or delusions to pay attention to their practical details.

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Breaking free of all constraints has its challenges; it can be a long, laborious, and sometimes dangerous task.

Icarus, My Cousin

A bird, aloft on updrafts in the sun

Above the path, could see one tiny soul,

Alone as if in death, yet singly, whole,

Complete and full contented as that One—

For on that path, and in that blessed place,

He knew such deep delight, such peace and calm

From drawing in each breath of nature’s balm

With that sweet sun so gentle on his face—

It seemed that like the bird, he too could fly,

Could rise above the green enchanted wood,

Need only think it and, behold, he could

Leap up at will, suspended in the sky—

Yet, knowing he could not thus really do,

He suddenly wept, bitter now with rue—

So turns the heart of merely mortal man,

Full in one moment of outlandish joy;

The next, despairing like a little boy,

Because the joy’s imperfect, as it can

Be seen by clearer eyes to truly be;

So rose that wanderer up to the crest,

Where soon the path was free of trees, and best,

Clear-viewed down from the cliff there to the sea—

He bound upon his shoulders feathered wings,

Sleek as the bird’s, to take by force his flight

And steal the sky, but its great burning light,

The blazing sun, had no use for such things,

And cast him, melted, in the ocean swell,

Gravity’s slave, thrown back from heav’n to hell.

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The world, powerful as it is, cannot fully contain me.

For myself, I will concede that I have been known to aim higher than my reach many a time, to think I am better or more skilled or more prepared for certain things than I really am. I have gotten knocked on my backside more than once; turned down, failed, fooled, exposed. There are fissures in the earth to prove the grandness of my fall. But what little I have accomplished was done mainly by dint of that same outsized expectation of my success, and without that I would hardly have moved since birth. So while I may grow and change as slowly as a tree breaking roots out of its paved prison cell, I will take my cue from that tree and keep expanding and hoping, and just see what I can do.

Duck!

Yep, someone’s sneaking up on you. Or some thing is just about to get you. It’s really inevitable that stuff is about to happen and make you the punchline of the universe’s joke. That’s how it works. In fact, in a plus-perfect moment of synchronicity, despite my having written this post several days ago in preparation for posting on the 8th of September, I had a brain hiccup and completely forgot to press Publish on the appropriate day. So here I am giving you a two-fer in recompense. Pardon my pratfall!photo montageThe nice thing is that we’re all generally in line for the same sort of treatment, so when such craziness happens, the embarrassment of it all is rarely going to linger for long; soon enough, something silly will happen to somebody else in the room and the pangs of self-consciousness will be turned to sympathy for his or her plight, the mortification of being the center of derisive attentions muted by seeing them passed right along to another poor dupe. That is also how it works.photo montageI’m not saying that I enjoy being the buffoon of the moment, mind. In the space of the last few days I managed to both fall off a shallow curb (only a near-miss, as I was able to convert the tripping into an awkward but deep curtsy to the people nearby) and trip forward up a step onto a hardwood floor, whose grain will soon be emblazoned on my knee in a variety of flamboyant purple colors by tomorrow, all while injuring nothing more seriously than my scant supply of dignity. And I’m not proud of this lack of grace, merely cognizant that it’s not limited strictly to me and the joke that remains in strangers’ minds has a lot more to do with the hilarity of the situation than it does with remembering what unknown fool performed the ignominious stunt that so brightened their day.photo montageI’d love to think it possible to overcome and avoid all future Incidents of ridiculous stupidity and clumsiness simply because, once experienced and noted, they can be put to rest, but that is decidedly not how it works. So what I need to overcome and avoid is letting it get to me. I am bound by history, odds and my very nature to slip, fall, make egregious errors and squeeze a minimum of ten smaller mistakes into every day I’m alive, but nothing says I have to be defined exclusively by my failures and flops. Every once in a while I can work to turn such things to entertaining advantage. Who knows, if I pay attention, I might even see the little disaster coming and be able to duck in time to miss it and let it hit someone else for a change.