I’ve never been much of a risk taker, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve begun to be a bit less cautious. I don’t know if that’s because with experience I’ve learned that I have often avoided things that turned out to be no big deal or if it’s because I’m older and figure I’m going to die anyway so what the heck? Either way, I definitely throw caution to the wind more often than I used to. Most of the time it pays off.
Take today, for example. It was a perfect day for a bike ride. I mean, picture perfect. Clear, deep blue sky. 65 degree temps. Light breeze. Amazing. It would have been criminal to ride indoors. My road bike desperately needs new tires after 700 miles on the trainer this spring, so I had to pull my mountain bike out of the garage. Years ago, hubby and I took the knobby tires off it and replaced them with touring tires so I could more easily pull the kids in the bike trailer with it. Still, I figured the tires should be able to hold up to some light mountain biking on dirt roads, right? Before leaving the house, I desperately tried to locate all the necessary tire changing materials (including a tube that would fit the touring tires) just in case. No luck. I decided to go anyway. The day was too nice to waste. I would take the risk, figuring that the worst that could happen is that I could end up having to walk home with a flat.
I rode out of our neighborhood and down into the state park across the street and hopped onto a dirt trail that leads to a nearby Audubon Society nature area. From there, I rode about two-tenths of a mile to the dirt road that runs up Waterton Canyon where I have hiked with my boys for years. The road travels about 6.5 miles up before you reach Strontia Springs Dam and a hop-on point for the Colorado Trail. It’s 5 miles from our house to the entrance to Waterton Canyon. I figured I’d ride up a couple miles only and that way if I ended up with a flat it would be just a short walk back to the entrance of the canyon where hopefully some nice fellow biker with a vehicle in the parking lot would be able to offer me a four mile ride back to the entrance to our neighborhood. But, damn, if the day wasn’t just too nice to stop two miles up. I was feeling great, so I kept riding. I rode 5 miles up. Then it occurred to me that if something happened at that point, it would be a 10-mile walk home. I decided a 20-mile round trip ride was good enough and I headed back down the canyon. Why push my luck, right? Of course, nothing bad happened. I got in a ride on a flawless day and was so glad I hadn’t sweat the small stuff and given up before I’d started on the off chance that something could possibly go wrong.
I used to plan my life based on things that might happen. I missed out on a lot of incredible opportunities before it occurred to me that I wasted too much time imagining disasters that never unfolded. Things usually manage to work themselves out. And, even when they don’t, the world doesn’t end. If I’d gotten a flat 5 miles up Waterton, it would have been unpleasant. It would have taken me a long time to get home. I probably would have been fairly cranky, but I would have gotten there and the world would have kept right on revolving. Years from now I’d have nothing left but a faint memory of the difficulty and a funny story to share. Too often we hold ourselves back from things to save ourselves possible trouble or heartache. But, what potential joy have we abandoned by living too cautiously? Yes. Sometimes things go wrong. But, then again, sometimes they don’t. Those are the times when you know with your whole heart how truly amazing life is.