Wednesday, 5 February 2014
A yen for risk
On the one hand we want safety. We want a home, a job, friends and family, things that make us feel protected and secure, things that ward off the horrors and uncertainties of the outside world.
But at the same time we don't want to feel too staid and set in our ways, we want a bit of excitement in our lives, so we also want risk. We drink too much, eat too much, drive recklessly and take dangerous drugs, busily compromising the very same safety and security we're striving for the rest of the time.
Some people go farther. The reliable bank clerk and home-owner who also has a yen for rock climbing, sky diving, bungee jumping or surfing. Or even a fervent desire to work in war-torn countries where they face death every day. They can only take so much safety and security before they crave the exact opposite, something that is physically threatening but gets the adrenaline going like nothing else.
Personally I have a strong yearning for safety, and I steer away from risk. I'm a timid soul who seldom does anything riskier than exceeding the speed limit or standing on a cliff-edge.
If I feel any sense of risk in my life, it's only the vicarious danger oozing from the media, with its screaming headlines about cancer epidemics, plane crashes, multiple pile-ups and mass shootings.
I guess that's one reason we're all such avid news-consumers. It gives us that exhilarating whiff of looming peril that livens up our usually predictable existence. It persuades us we're taking constant risks when in fact we've never been safer.
But I think I'll pass on the bungee-jumping for now, if that's all right with you.