Risk, Reward and Ridicule

“Life is not about preparing for the grave with grace and repose. One should enter, skidding in sideways, a glass of wine in one hand and a heavenly chocolate in the other.” Anonymous

For someone who is as relatively staid and conservative as I am, from a general life and living standpoint, this might seem like a philosophy I would not regard highly. Surprise! It’s not. I can easily make credible arguments for following this adage, to many degrees.

Number one, I don’t believe, in any way shape or form, that we are on this earth with the sole purpose of ‘preparing for the grave’. I also don’t condone a general ideology of conquer, plunder and squander. I believe we are meant to enjoy, create, prosper and sustain the vast wealth set before us. For me that wealth includes people that are so different I sometimes wonder if we were all raised on the same planet, insects that I can not fix upon any reasonable explanation for their being and varieties of plants and animals that simply boggles my mind.

Number two, our life span is pitifully short. Humankind is huge, at least in our own minds, but the reality is that our total time in this universe has been barely perceptible compared with it’s grand scale, at least so far. Almost anything worth doing involves risks. Risks come in different sizes, but activities that have potential for large reward also tend to be associated with larger risks. If we all carefully planned our days to avoid all risk, pain and loss, life would be very dry indeed.

If asked to name persons that have achieved some level of immortality, I invariably think about three types of people: artists (painters, architects, etc.), musicians (composers as well as brilliant performers) and writers. Who among us can’t name three of each of these creators? In addition, if you’re older than 25, I bet more than one of the people you think of is dead.

The risk taken when creating is the potential for failure. To be more precise, the risk for creating, in fact often a guaranteed outcome of most creating, is ridicule and derision…at least from some people. The reward for creating is that 2 years from now someone thanks you for performing at their bar mitzvah or 20 years from now someone you don’t know reads your book and it gives them pleasure or 200 years after you’re dead someone pays $10,000 for your painting (you know, the one you had to steal the paint to complete) or 2000 years after you’re ashes are cold someone is still using or inhabiting a structure you designed.

In short, I don’t propose that we all quit our day jobs, cash in the 401k, get drunk and start writing and painting. However, for myself I will try to do two things. Everyday I will think about how to push myself to listen to my inner creative voice and, at the same time, beat down my innate safety response when listening to the more naturally creative people with which I like to surround myself.


About Bob

Bob has been a writer all his life. He has had to do many other things to buy groceries and make his car payments, but most of these things have involved writing, in one genre or another.
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