Fear and Safety

Flying into Johannesburg

Flying into Johannesburg today

Most of the bon voyage comments I received ended in something like “travel safely” or “be safe”.  In the week before I left for Namibia these comments got me thinking was I putting myself in harms way, was I being reckless?  Wouldn’t it be safer to simply stay at home?

Of course I could lock myself away in a padded room and that would be safe but where would that leave me.  Reflecting on these “be safe” comments, I wonder if we have become cocooned in the world we live in and are no longer playing offense and instead are focused on playing defense.  Don’t lose anything we have, don’t put anything at risk!  Is our tolerance for risk diminishing?  Is our fear of the unknown increasing?

I’m writing this on the plane to Johannesburg and I’m glad I’m sitting here challenging my status quo.  Most of my life is spent managing risk, making sure I don’t screw up and I need the chance to push the envelope from time to time to grow.  Namibia fits the bill nicely.

Coincidentally, I’ve just read an article from my favorite photographer/writer David Duchemin on the topic of risk.  He mentions “Great stories and great art come not from fearlessness but from courage…..courage is the decision to not let fear control us”.  I am talking about the same thing, just not articulating it quite so well.  He closes with “The only thing scarier is never doing anything more than what is safe”.

The world can be a scary place and it can also be the most wonderful place.  We need to develop the courage challenge our own limitations and open ourselves to what is possible.

“I would rather be ashes than dust!  I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry rot.  I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet.  The function of man is to live, not to exist.  I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them.  I shall use my time.” – Jack London


One thought

  1. I figured you were flying the friendly skies and only felt excitement for your journey. Well, maybe a bit of envy. I remember feeling a jolt of fear just before leaving for Africa and thinking, “what the Hell am I doing taking my family into such a dangerous place?” Came out thinking that was the best thing I ever did for my family, and myself!! What you said is so true. A few weeks ago I wrote on this subject and shared my favorite quote from Georgia O’Keefe, “I’ve been afraid every day of my life and it never stopped me from doing anything.” That has been my adopted model ever since I discovered it. I admire your risks, Andy, which are many.

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