Monday, April 11, 2011

In Fifty Years

We watched Transformers with the kids on the weekend, and when Shia LeBeouf's car transforms from a robot to a Camaro and offers him a ride, he turns to Megan Fox (possibly the worst actress I've ever seen) when she hesitates and says, "In fifty years, when you look back on your life, are you going to wish you had gotten into this car?" I loved this sentence, smack in the middle of a silly popcorn movie, for it struck me as an interesting way to measure risk.

I am fearful by nature, and am trying to challenge myself to take more risks, and practice leaving the shore instead of staying where I perceive I am safe all of the time. As I age, I find it easier and harder to try new things, all at the same time. The easy part comes in because I want to live with less regret, and I recognize that time is short, and if I want to get past some of my fears, there is no sense waiting. The hard part is always there because of my fear of change, and looking like an idiot, and wanting to preserve the quality of my life.

I like the idea of asking myself if I will look back and wish I would have taken a risk. It offers a perspective on the situation which reaches further than my narrow-minded view today. It's easy to talk myself out of things, or prioritize a situation based on what I think I need at the time, but what about in my old age? When I look back on my life, and the choices I made at each fork and bend in the road, I want to have more good memories than regrets.

Fear tends to keep us in the shallow water, where we are safe, but rarely exhilarated and challenged. It's about balance; finding that measure of both in our lives. Some people are natural risk-takers while others hang back and take the conservative road, and each group needs to step out of their comfort zone once in awhile and try something new.

From this point on, I hope to take this long-range view a little more often. Maybe it will help me step away from what's comfortable, to embrace the unexpected and see where those paths take me. I want to look back and have a rich variety of experiences to remember and enjoy. I don't want all of it to be safe and predictable and simple. The next time a robot transforms into a car and invites me for a ride, I think I'll climb in instead of running in the other direction.

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