Monday, September 17, 2007

Risk-Taking in The Age of Wisdom

I confess -- I have reached The Age of Wisdom. That's the age when little critters with jelly-smeared lips call you Grandma, the government deposits a monthly check in your bank account, and you get discount prices at the cinema & some restaurants. (Let me note that discounts only feel good if I ask for them, not if some kid with pimples offers!)

Last night our dear friend of 30+ years, who only recently reached the Age of Wisdom, came to dinner. In just 10 days he'll fly to Kathmandu, Nepal to join with 4 other Seattle strangers & 9 Sherpas to hike/trek through the Himalayas. (Photo by Alfred Molon,
That's 27 days without a bath, 27 days pushing the bounds of physical & emotional endurance, and 27 days eating Dal & rice cakes while praying his bouts of kidney stones pick another time to attempt
an escape. I'm a little worried for him, though he had been a mountaineer and in preparation for this trip had spent all last month hiking seriously. He joked that he'd want the group to leave him by the trail rather than ruin the trek for them. In the next breath he added he hoped others were in good enough shape not to ruin his trip either. Right! Everyone is sharing a group risk in a very real sense, when they're roped together at freezing altitudes & exhausted. I'm in awe & continue to wonder at our friend's motivation to test himself in this trip of a lifetime at the age of 60.

What am I willing to risk, having attained the Age of Wisdom? No way does the trip to Nepal appeal to me! 27 days without a bath is cruel & unusual punishment. I have never been a risk taker. When our daughter was old enough for me to go back to school for a career change from Latin teacher to programmer, I took a programmer's aptitude test for a job-placement agency. I had answered every question correctly on the test, BUT I had only answered 2/3 of the questions. That's me! Whenever my ego was on the line, I always worked hard enough to be successful ... whatever time & effort was required. If that test had no time limit, I'd have answered all the questions, even if it took all year :)

But at the Age of Wisdom, I discover a strange brain cell with a yen for making jewelry -- an aberrant brain cell operating 180 degrees from the world of technical academics where the answer was either right or wrong. In my new world, personal taste judges the result right or wrong; the rules are nebulous, baffling, & subjective. I can't predict what my buyer will like. Yet this pushy brain cell wants me to create -- a very personal act! -- then come out of happy retirement to put my creations out there -- PUBLICLY, hoping for someone's favorable judgement & money. Like our friend on his big trek, I could fall flat on my face, because new businesses fail all the time.

Yet here I am taking this big risk with my ego on the line because of that 1 strange brain cell. It's not exactly a life-threatening trek, but the rest of my brain thinks I'm as nutty as my trekking friend! In fact the rest of my brain doesn't recognize this new Cheryl at all...???


imakecutestuff said...

I loved this post! Very inspiring indeed. btw, I really like your new photo style (that shiny icy blue bead necklace...) Beautiful! :)

Seattle Bead Creations (aka Classic Beadwear) said...

wow... thanks for the nice comments. they mean a lot. btw: i'm slowly moving toward better pics, ticking off the suggs of an experienced friend :) but the process is slow. new jewelry posts will reflect the suggs, plus a few oldies like Glacial Ice...

ambika said...

This made me laugh as I was just on the phone with a friend who's moving to London shortly; and while sharing a cramped hostel with Gypsies bathing their dog in the shared shower was tolerable 5 years ago (ie: at the age of 24), doing it now is an *impossibility.*

The boyfriend heartily dislikes not at least having his own bathroom so I know as long as I'm travelling with him, comfort will be a must. And he's younger than me!