Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Fallacy of Playing It Safe

If you've never made a mistake, you're not trying. It means you've never pushed yourself to the edge of your ability.

Speaking of Jazz, the above was something one of the commentators mentioned last night when he was referring to some of the popular orchestras of the big band period. Of course the sentiment doesn't apply to just music; it applies to anything you do in life. It refers to the fallacy of playing it safe.

I think about what drinking did to me. While I was drinking, I was convinced it was helping me cope, helping me get through life without having to experience too much pain. I thought I would rather be numb. The problem was, that made me small. I feared not just pain but everything that led to it: a fear of failure, a fear of taking risks, a fear of the humiliation that comes when you realize you're not perfect.

Sobriety has shown me that people are the most beautiful, and much more interesting, when they're imperfect. You can't peek into a perfect soul. You don't see bravery in someone who is fearless. The only way to catch a glimpse of someone's true self is in looking at how far they're willing to reach ... which sometimes means their reach will fall a little short.

Mistakes are blessings. Sometimes they mean we made a poor decision, but then we can learn from them. Other times they just mean we aimed high, at something lofty, at something great.


Matt said...

There are times when playing it safe makes sense, especially in these economic times. When you are responsible for the financial well-being of others rather than yourself only, you might tend towards being "close to the vest". I have taken big risks in the past decade and had some of them turn out well enough and others completely flame out on me. I think that the better way to phrase it is that you always need to challenge yourself and look for new opportunities.

Joyce said...

Matt, I wasn't really talking about money.

I was talking about "soul" stuff, the stuff that makes up our personalities and character.

I suppose a person working on Wall Street might consider money in that light, but that's a world that holds no personal appeal to me.

I obviously wouldn't advise anybody taking stupid risks in the stock market, etc. That's not what I'm talking about, bro.

Joyce said...

Oh... I'm not saying you personally took stupid risks in the stock market. That was an example directed at the Wall Street types I'd just mentioned. Thought I'd better clarify!


Anonymous said...

It isn't bravery if you aren't a little afraid. Getting sober was the biggest risk of my life, because it was when I was most afraid. It also carried the biggest payoff.

Tedi Trindle said...

That was me. Clicked the anon button by mistake.

Joyce said...

Hi Tedi, totally. That's exactly what I meant not seeing courage in anyone who is fearless. There are many people in AA meetings who are scared shitless to just be there, and it took a colossal act of courage to just come in the door.