Timing is everything, really it is. Just one week ago, a woman was tragically killed by an alligator while walking her dog near a lagoon in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. And here I am, waiting at the airport, on my way to Hilton Head. No, I don’t go near lagoons, nor have I in the 20 years we’ve been vacationing there, but that uneasy feeling was with me all week. You know, that feeling of “what if….?” And a friend who has lived down there for years we spend time with when visiting gives us our annual reminder about the shark-infested waters just off the South Carolina coast (thanks, old friend).
So – do I cower in fear of alligators and sharks (and the occasional jellyfish)? Stay home and miss the great world out there? Heck, no! Life is full of risks, and while some aren’t worth taking (for me, skydiving is a pretty good example), other risks may be worth stepping out of your norm and living life to its fullest. I’ve jumped off cliffs into dark water, flown in helicopters, gone white river rafting, and skied down a black diamond mountain trail that I had no business skiing down. Memorable, of course, and stuck in my middle-aged brain for good. Perhaps the sheer vividness of each jump, splash and tumble created a bright green check mark in my mental diary of life.
There are people we all know who’ve certainly taken much greater risks. One brave man who first comes to mind, fought in the terrible war over in Afghanistan, was shot and seriously wounded, yet recovered, and has a happy marriage, a child and a sweet golden retriever.
Another definite risk-taker flew those insanely fast F-15 fighter jets. When he wasn’t swirling and spinning up in the air at 10 bazillion miles per hour, he would be out at all hours on the lake at his family’s summer camp, waterskiing……barefoot.
Then, there are the other risk-takers, people who haven’t repelled off cliffs or faced the enemy in a foreign country. One woman has faced death, square on, as she was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer years ago. Her recent risk was to use an experimental cancer treatment, and happily, is now facing remission. Her risk was unimaginable, but she took it, and has won her battle. She still has those “bad days” from the side effects and recovery of the treatment, but they pale in comparison to the quality of life she previously endured. A different type of risk-taker for sure, but she is a warrior and truly a hero in the hearts of her family and friends.
That kind of risk makes one appreciate life, and all the gifts God has given us. We take risks daily, just by hopping in the car and driving to work, or slicing vegetables with a very sharp knife (yes, well, that is another story at another time).
Whatever risk you choose, face it with positivity, embrace the experience and cherish the memory. Those sharks and ‘gators will probably never see the whites of my eyes when I land in Hilton Head, but there will be some type of risky adventure to create when we are down there. So stay tuned!