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Living is Worth the Risk – So Choose to Live!

Ugh…Wow! That’s the basic starting point for describing 2020 to most people. A year that FDR might say will live in infamy. If you would have told me in December of 2019 that for most of the next year we’d debate whether leaving our homes or not was worth the risk, I would not have believed you.

worth the riskYet here we are at the close of 2020 and there are some who have not left their homes since February to protect themselves from contracting COVID19.

There are so many angles people have pursued and will continue to pursue to try and make sense of what happened this year. There will be facts, there will be opinions, there will be misdirection and there will be suspicion. And all of it fueled with emotions we know so well – fear, anger, frustration, anxiety, confusion, sadness and helplessness. Who hasn’t felt at least one of those at some level in 2020?

And yet, despite all the downside this year has brought, I had a thought several months ago while driving with my family that I have not been able to escape. It gave me perspective on how to handle my life in a world consumed with risk. It showed me there is a better path than the one governed by fear.

The thought was a basic one. Put simply, my mind told me this – “Living is worth the risk.” Here is what that means to me.

Living is Worth the Risk

What am I advocating here? Should we throw all caution aside and pursue any experience no matter the risk to self or others? Certainly not.

I see the negative downside to the phrase “Living is worth the risk”  that some will quickly point out. I’m not encouraging a “do-anything-that-makes-you-feel-good” philosophy to life. Our choices should reflect wise thinking based on our circumstances. There is no place for a reckless or flippant attitude when making important life decisions.

Related Content: How to Make a Good Decision Every Time

And certainly, when measuring what you should do in relation to your health in a COVID19 world, only you can decide what is worth the risk.

But one of the more important lessons I’ve gained this year is that there are risks to literally everything we do in life. And, truth be told, we have learned to rationalize away the risks we see as acceptable.

I don’t think twice about driving a car, even though statistically it is one of the deadliest forms of travel. It is worth the risk to me to have mobility. I’m not going to be pinned down at home because I might get in an accident.

I could list dozens of things we do every day that carry some measure of risk. If I only focused on the potential risk, I would second guess myself all the time. Consequently, fear of some negative outcome would paralyze my existence.

In the end, for me, it all comes down to this – there is a difference between living and existing. I think we intuitively know this. But the lines between the two can become blurred and hard to define. The best way I can distinguish the difference for you is with an example from my own life.

Living vs. Existing: Teacher Style

I work as a high school teacher at a large private school. My days are fairly routine and run like clockwork. At work by 7:30 in the morning, six 50-minute periods with a 40-minute lunch break in the middle of the day, done by 3:30. Rinse and repeat for 5 days a week, 9 months out of the year.

It’s fairly easy to have a career as a teacher and just exist. Sure, there are subtle variations in each day and each class, different meetings to attend and situations to address. But for the most part you see the same kids every day, during the same period, covering the same content you’ve covered year in and year out.

Once you find your groove, you can choose to just cruise. Show up each day, punch a clock, due your bare-minimum duty, avoid conflicts, get your paycheck.

That’s an existing teacher. No variation. No drama. Little risk-taking. Know anyone like this at your job?

Living Teachers

Living teachers assume all the above as a baseline for the career and are not content to remain there. They find new ways to present content to an evolving generation of youth. When the student stays after class and hints at a problem, they probe and counsel through lunch.

Living teachers get involved outside the classroom by coaching teams or volunteering to cover events. They come in early and stay late without being told to do so. They share problems with the administration, challenge colleagues and encourage parents on phone calls. Where tensions exist, they step into them to try and solve a problem or be a peacemaker.

Why do all this extra? The job description doesn’t require it. Wouldn’t it be enough to be a teacher that just existed?

My answer is “No” – it’s not enough for me. Everything I described about the living teacher brings flavor and joy and purpose to the day.

Is it all risky? Yes. Does it sometimes bring me anxiety? Yes. Am I sometimes afraid about what might happen if I step into some situation or make a mistake? Absolutely.

But it’s all worth the risk. I couldn’t be fulfilled if I didn’t step out, assume the risks and let the outcomes fall where they may.

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Living is Worth the Risk in 2021

How will you face the new year? Will you be content to just exist? Or will you say, “OK, that’s enough…I’m ready to live”?

I grant that, in the world we live, the choice is not easy. It seems that every media outlet and every person around is sending cautionary messages to avoid risk. Whatever the agenda, if there is one, that is what we hear.

And at some level I get it. Like I said, there is a time for caution. But as an overarching mantra to guide one’s life, I’m not buying it. I’m not planting my flag on the “let’s-never-take-a-risk” side of life.

In closing, if you are content to exist or feel like your circumstances will only allow you to function at this level, then so be it. Exist at the best level you can. We’d rather have you existing than checking out entirely. Your presence still matters, even if you are stuck in neutral with no end in site.

But when the time is right…when you are ready, take a step out and up this year. Take some risks. Start living again (or for the first time). In the end, I think you will find that living is so much better than existing.

Answer a Question or Share a Comment Below: How do you decide if something is worth the risk? What helps you manage through a difficult time? Will you take a different approach to life in the coming year?

Image courtesy of musicman at Shutterstock.com

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  1. Thank you. I have sisters who are living in fear. One has not seen her Grandchildren in over a year. God did not design me to live in fear..sure I am cautious, but I need to be with my family.

    • I’ll acknowledge that it is very hard. It’s easy to succumb to fear, especially when everyone around you is afraid and on edge. And our media facilitates or accelerates our fears just in how they report news. Ultimately, God is the only one who can help us overcome our fears…it’s on him that we should lean.

  2. Hoang Long says

    Life is always hard.
    So let’s go ahead and don’t turn back the head

    • Yes, life is hard. That shouldn’t surprise us. And we can’t shrink away from facing it. Better to face it head on than turn and run from it. Thanks for reading!

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