Risk

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“What we see as risk and foolhardiness on the outside can seem more like a constant cohesive drive on the inside that holds to priorities that cannot be discerned by others because they reside in a far too private chamber of personal experience to be shared easily. To dare everything is not necessarily to travel off, but often the opposite, to have faith in a foundation you have discovered in life and which, though it is difficult to describe, even to yourself, you refuse to relinquish.” — David Whyte, The Three Marriaages

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”
— T.S. Eliot

“Anyone who takes himself too seriously always runs the risk of looking ridiculous; anyone who can consistently laugh at himself does not.” — Vaclav Havel

“Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.” — E. E. Cummings

“There are no little events in life, those we think of no consequence may be full of fate, and it is at our own risk if we neglect the acquaintances and opportunities that seem to be casually offered, and of small importance.” — Amelia E. Barr

“Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun.” — Mary Lou Cook

“One of the reasons mature people stop learning is that they become less and less willing to risk failure.”
— John W. Gardner

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” — Anais Nin

“If we listened to our intellect, we’d never have a love affair. We’d never have a friendship. We’d never go into business, because we’d be too cynical. Well, that’s nonsense. You’ve got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down.” — Annie Dillard

“I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.” — Pablo Picasso

“What leaders have to remember is that somewhere under the somnolent surface is the creature that builds civilizations, the dreamer of dreams, the risk taker. And remembering that, the leader must reach down to the springs that never dry up, the ever-fresh springs of the human spirit.”
— John W. Gardner

“I believe in getting into hot water; it keeps you clean.” — G.K. Chesterton

After 25 years of marriage, I certainly know that it’s much more risky to stay in a relationship at times than to walk away from it. There have been days it would be far easier simply to travel off somewhere by myself. I often don’t know what holds me here, what it is that this foundation is that I believe in so strongly that I’m willing to risk so much for it. And yet, even though I certainly do refuse to relinquish it, I still have my dreams of simply traveling off, and even have acted out on that urge at times.

The largest risk of all seems to be in our relationship to ourselves, in truly trusting ourselves to know what it is we want most deeply and to go after it. Sometimes that is another person, sometimes it is to pursue what it is you see most deeply in that person and to try to get them to acknowledge it, even at the risk of destroying the friendship, of burning the bridges that connect you to them. It’s when I’ve taken those risks that I’ve been most badly hurt, and yet, somehow, the most proud of myself for taking the risk to give them even that brief glimpse so deeply inside themselves. No one ever appreciates it, or at least if they do, they don’t tell me. I never know if that is just my imagined justification for what I’ve done, or if there is some reality to it. It was just a glimpse in their eyes, the last look they gave me, the one that said somehow “I see what you see”, whether the thank you was also there, or just the blank stare that sadly implied they would never be that person I saw, that they would never do the great things I saw them capable of doing.

I hope I never see myself in the mirror, giving myself that look. I hope I know myself well enough, and listen to what I want well enough, to follow through and take the risks that will never make that look necessary in my own eyes.