Friday, July 30, 2010

What if.....



One of my all time favorite quotes is by Helen Keller – Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.

I was thinking of this quote this week as I worked on my list and prepared my stuff for the upcoming Hut Trip that Chris, Jerry and I are doing. It’s funny that many of the people I’ve told about our hut trip think we’re crazy.

The trip will be 7 days in the San Juan Mountains riding our bikes from Telluride to Moab using a map and GPS as our guide. I agree that this will be an adventure. But when you really look at it, it’s not an outrageous adventure. Each night we stay in a warm, dry, fully stocked hut. The route we’ll be riding on for the most part will be fairly well marked fire roads and trails and we’re all in good enough biking shape that the 30-40 miles per day we’ll be riding isn’t that insane.

I guess though, when you look at our society today, where any trip that isn’t within 5 minutes of a Starbucks or an ATM is considered remote, this is kind of an adventure.

Why though do some people actively seek out these types of adventures and others, prefer to try to live life eliminating every possibility of injury, discomfort or risk? Were we raised this way or is this a behavior we’ve learned?

Evidently, as I found when I did a google search, risk-taking behaviors have been the subject of much speculation and the opinions vary widely. From Sigmund Freud's belief that dare-devil stunts arise out of humans' innate "death drive," to some modern psychologists' view that dangerous activities can make us feel more alive.

As a kid, I was a huge chicken. I wouldn’t jump off high rocks into the lake with my cousins, I didn’t like any type of change, I would rather cross country ski than downhill since I didn’t like going fast, I hated scary movies etc.(ok, I still don’t like scary movies)

At some point though, it changed. I started seeking out the higher rocks to jump from. I skied faster and steeper hills, I took up motorcycling, and mountain biking and enjoy riding my road bike as fast as I possibly can down the steepest roads in the area.

So, what changed? And, to the original question, why do some people seek out adventurous activities and others are perfectly content to sit home and read a book. Is it a genetic trait that suddenly kicked in, is it because there are no more lands to conquer or dragons to slay or is it just a desire to recapture my youth?

You would think that now that I’m older and have a stable life, home, family and job that I would be less adventurous and make every effort to preserve that. Or is that the thing that drives us? As we get older does our life become so stable and comfortable that we seek out adventures and chances to feel alive? Do we still long to rescue the maiden?

If that's true, then why doesn’t everyone do this? Why do many of my friends and co-workers think that adventures such as the skiing, the Death Ride and riding my bike through the mountains of Colorado and Utah are crazy? Why do some people always forcus on the what ifs? What if you crash, what if you break down, what if you get attacked by bigfoot and torn to bits?......

Now, I’m not a psychologist, although I probably should spend time with one, but I believe that it’s really more about fear. I think that, for many people, the fear of injury or discomfort or the unknown is enough to keep them from taking any risks. While for others, the ability to see beyond that fear to the possibility of experiencing something truly cool and amazing, is worth the risk and prevents them from even thinking about the what ifs…..at least that’s my opinion...after all...what if you die in your sleep and never get to see the sun rise over the San Juan mountains....

4 comments:

MichelleR said...

Have a great time! I look forward to the story and lots of pictures!

OldNSlo said...

yeah, I can't wait. 9 days and counting....

Chris Nordby said...

Funny that I just read this now after the trip.
in retrospect, how cool was the moment of trying to figure out how to make it out of the woods, and the long trip home. I know it wasn't what we planned for, and I feel really bad that you and Jerry bailed half way through, but the hole experience showed me the true greatness that humanity has to offer. I think you have to engage in some risk to participate in life.
Chris

OldNSlo said...

I just read your comment and I think that it's true - like the old saying goes, "adversity breeds character"
It was really nice to see how the challenges we faced allowed others to rise to the occasion. Pretty much reaffirmed my belief in the goodness of people. (at least outside of CA) :-)