Human beings move toward pleasure and away from pain, right?
Like fun we do.
We coat pain with pleasure, and get a double whammy when it hits.
We make even the prospect of pain into a pleasure.
A whole lot of our “fun” is in taking risks.
Risks with a high chance of pain.
The riskier it gets, the more “fun.”
It’s called living on the edge.
For some of us, it’s the only way of life we know.
If we are lucky, we wake up one glorious morning
and stop taking unnecessary risks
before it’s too late.
We learn from someone else’s tragedy
in time to prevent our own.
What do you say we take a look together at our attraction to risk,
and see if we can face it down?
Let’s DO this!
A couple weeks ago, I am back on my bike after not riding for a month
due to eye surgery. It’s a beautiful fall day and I’m feeling great.
I take off on my usual three mile course along the lake,
starting my stopwatch as I begin.
I’ll beat the times I was doing before! I say to myself.
The first section is downhill for about a half mile.
I let it rip.
Whoa! The wind is going through me. It’s not summer any more.
But I am flying!
Going way faster down this hill than I have ever allowed myself before!
Hardly touch on the brakes.
Now I know I will beat my previous times!
I will spare you the details, but ten minutes later I capsize on a hill,
fall off backwards landing on my back and hit my head hard on a rock.
Makes such a loud bang I think I have a head injury.
Then I realize it was all noise and no pain.
My state of the art helmet has totally protected me.
I lie there looking up at the sky till the shock wears off.
There are people there offering assistance.
I find I am not injured other than a sore back,
and sore legs where my bike landed on me.
In other words, I am damn lucky.
I walk my bike home.
So, what caused my crash?
The whole thing was bravado.
I was showing off.
I was out to prove how tough I am.
I didn’t care that I was taking a risk.
All I cared about was speed.
Did I know that what I was doing was dangerous?
Was there a certain thrill in that?
What do you call someone who is attracted to danger
and gets pleasure out of the risk of pain?
Did I get the fiasco that I was flirting with?
Am I embarrassed to admit that?
Can we change the subject?
Let’s talk about you 🙂 !
What’s your risk of choice?
There are so many to choose from!
We can speed in bikes, in cars, on motorcycles.
Drink and drive.
Not wear seat belts.
Text while driving.
Play it loose with stop signs..
Pass going up a hill.
Weave in and out of traffic.
Have a mighty attack of road rage.
Oh, and we can experiment with drugs.
Have casual sex with multiple partners.
Omit birth control.
Ah yes, and we can refuse to get vaccinated.
Refuse to wear a mask.
Congregate unprotected and in large numbers.
The list is endless!
What do all these risks have in common?
They appeal to our attraction to danger.
We find danger exciting. (See Lady Gaga video Bad Romance.)
Danger is our drug of choice.
It’s cheap. Easy to get.
Easy to get addicted to.
Taking risks gives us the illusion of strength.
We feel immortal,
as we are courting death.
The closer we get to death, the more exciting it feels.
Living on the edge makes us feel alive
even if we’re half dead.
Our risk-taking often comes from well hidden depression.
It can be a veiled form of suicide.
In the hospital ward
I used to work in the neurosurgical ward of a hospital,
where they brought the young guys after their motorcycle and car crashes.
Most were paraplegics, paralyzed from the waist down.
Some were quads, paralyzed all over.
None of them could pee on their own.
Every morning an orderly in a blue uniform carrying a little tray would arrive.
He would walk down the hall,
going in each room to siphon the pee out of each guy.
Later in the morning, I would go and talk with them.
I remember one very small young guy who was totally paralyzed.
He told me he wasn’t wearing a seat belt and went through
the windshield of a truck when it ran into the car ahead.
“I shoulda bounced,“ he told me, with a brave smile.
So, how do we prevent a tragedy like this?
Why did this kid not fasten his seat belt?
It probably felt free and fun to go without it.
If we don’t want to end up like this, or worse,
we will have to spoil the “fun” of risking our lives.
The “fun” of breaking the safety rules.
The “fun” of ignoring what is happening to the people
who do break those rules.
How do we do that?
We need to expose it all as veiled forms of suicide.
We need to challenge ourselves to face just how suicidal we are.
We all know when we are courting death.
But we think it’s cool !
It’s a great movie, and we are playing the lead.
It’s really cool.
It’s really fun.
Until it isn’t.
If we want to stop before it’s too late, we gotta ask ourselves :
“Why do I enjoy flirting with disaster?”
“Why do I want to risk ruining my life?”
Physician heal thyself
As for me, I’m taking my own medicine.
When I get on my bike and feel tempted to race faster than I can handle,
I ask myself right out loud: “Why do I want to crash and burn ?”
“You can handle it!” is the lie we all tell ourselves.
No we can’t.
Have you ever stood up to your friends and refused to take a risk
everyone else was taking?
How did you get up the guts to do it?
I hope you will write and tell me about it!