“Risk more than others think is safe. Care more than others think is wise. Dream more than others think is practical. Expect more than others think is possible.” – Cadet Maxim
I’ve been thinking a great deal about taking risks lately. Life has given me several illustrations lately that point to the ripe fruits of taking chances, and the rotten fruit of refusing to take them.
As with most things in my life, I’ll begin with animals! We live outside of town, in an area with tons of trees and fields. It’s Heaven on earth for me because of the raccoons, squirrels, possums, rabbits, cats, and birds. We even get an occasional deer, skunk, fox, and coyote. Since the first day we lived here, we’ve been an unofficial resort for all of these animals. They know the rules – we provide the food, water, places to sit and/or sleep and all they have to do is look adorable.
It’s a good arrangement.
Usually, the cats are as happy to see us as we are to see them. They come right into our family and I grant them a perfectly suited, lovely name. Most seem to know that they’ve reached a cat’s version of Heaven on earth – complete with me, the poster child for cat lovers.
However, we get an occasional feral cat that is so wild and so unfamiliar with humans that no amount of coaxing, toy mice, cooing, or Whiska’s will reach them. I had a male, solid black beauty we called “Jet Li” that I tried to win over for months. This guy just wanted nothing at all to do with humans – so I’d leave the food and walk away. I even put his food and water far from the other cats, so he could eat in peace.
Unfortunately, he’s now resting in peace, after getting hit on a nearby road. He was apparently venturing off in search of something and his opportunity for settling into a family ran out. I’m not saying that it wouldn’t have happened if he’d taken a chance on us, but it is the first cat we’ve lost to a highway accident.
A couple of days before my husband had to bury a cat that refused to take a risk on us, I welcomed a new little female cat into our family. In a personal best, I named her before I even touched her. Hannah was in our front yard when I went out to feed the birds one morning. I recognized her as a cat that had belonged to some people who lived close by. When they moved, apparently “Hannah” wasn’t invited to go with them. So, like any thoughtless humans would do, they just abandoned her. It wouldn’t be quite as bad except for one thing – she had been de-clawed. After a few weeks left to her own devices, and pretty defenseless on her own, she was pretty timid.
I called her to me, but she ran and hid on the other side of the house. I came in really fast for some turkey (yes, dear, that’s where the rest of it went) and ran back outside. When I called to her, she peeked around the corner. I tossed a little turkey toward her and she ate it and took another step towards me. We continued the lure game with 4 more pieces of meat, each one thrown a little closer to me. It ended with her taking some from my hand, then literally throwing herself into my arms, purring.
“Leap and the net will appear.” – Proverb
There was something about her process that has stuck with me. She sized up the situation, then decided to risk it all. The small, clawless, abandoned cat was rewarded with a home and family that is everything a cat could hope for. She has her own bed, toys, food, fresh water, and all the attention she can handle.
All because she overcame fear and took a chance.
Two cats. Two reactions to fear. One ending. One beginning.
Another illustration of the ripe fruits of risk taking came from my recent commitment to exercise and eating right. Eating healthy isn’t a risk (even when it comes to wheat pasta), but for me, exercise can be. I’ve had asthma all my life, a bad back courtesy of a car wreck, and I suffered from a very painful foot condition called Plantar Fasciitis for nearly a year. In May, when two of my daughters and I decided to begin a regular fitness regime, I was a little cautious. I couldn’t help but wonder which part of me would fall apart first! I’m not nearly old enough to start worrying about that sort of thing yet, so I threw the concerns aside. We began walking, jogging, and riding bikes at least 5 days a week. Most days, we do a combination of the different activities until we’ve reached an hour.
As of today, I’ve lost 12 pounds. I’m not bragging, because to be honest, if I didn’t cook so many sweets and love chocolate so much – the number would be much higher. But, what can I say, I’m all about desserts…. especially the ones who answer to the name chocolate.
Again, No risk = No Reward. Doesn’t all self improvement begin with a risk?
If there is anything you’re considering doing, I hope you’ll size up the situation and throw yourself into it just as Hannah threw herself into her new life. She hasn’t regretted it for a second, and I’m betting you’ll find similar rewards.
“We must walk consciously only part way toward our goal and then leap in the dark to our success. “ – Henry David Thoreau