Thursday, June 5, 2008

Failed Risk

One important quality of a successful retirement is the willingness to take risks. By the time most of us reach a certain age, we’ve found a groove in our relationships, work, home and interests. Retirement opens up the opportunity to explore and discover new possibilities. Likewise, it provides an easy out to withdraw from the world if we don’t put effort into getting outside our comfort zone.

Because of my work, I feel like I’m taking risks on a fairly consistent basis. It’s ironic how the world let’s us know we still have work to do. Last weekend, I was confronted with an opportunity to take a small risk and I couldn’t do it.

We’ve lived in our suburban neighborhood for almost twenty-five years. It’s a congenial place to live. People have come and gone throughout the years. It’s the type of place where you wave at your neighbor, talk about crab grass over the back fence, and deliver carrot cake if there’s an illness. We don’t get involved in the day to day activities and dramas that go on behind closed shades.

Recently a younger couple moved into the house two doors down. They got settled and then started working on a major remodel. The husband worked as the general contractor and every time my husband would see him as we took our daily walk, we’d get an update on the progress.

They completed the remodel a few months ago and promised to have an open house so everyone in the neighborhood could come see they new addition. The open house occurred last Sunday. In addition to the neighbors, they invited all of their friends.

I wanted to go to the open house with my husband, but had to work and didn’t get home until three o’clock. By that time, we needed to prepare dinner so my husband could go to bed, since he still works the night shift.

After he went to bed, I ran to the store and picked up a small plant as a house warming gift. As I drove by the house on my way home, I saw lots of children playing in the front yard, but no one that I recognized.

I called another neighbor to find out they had just returned from the open house. Then I froze. I couldn’t go down there. I didn’t know if anyone I knew was going to be there and I didn’t want to walk into a house with all of their friends and not know anyone.

So, I didn’t go. It seems so silly now. I think back over all of the times I didn’t do something, because I felt uncomfortable. I wrote recently about taking a risk and how proud I was of painting by the side of the road.

The opportunity to take risks never wanes, nor does the opportunity to succeed or fail.

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