Usually I answer Sadje’s Sunday Poser in her comments, but today I have more to say regarding her question: “What does it mean to live boldly?”
WARNING: long post ahead!
To me, living boldly is basically the opposite of everything I do. I’ve always been super cautious (with a few exceptions), and maybe it’s because my parents were in the insurance industry. Where other people see opportunities for fun, I see accidents and death. I am hyper aware, for instance, that every time I get in a car (whether I’m driving or someone else is), I’m running the risk of injury, or hurting someone else, or financial loss. Every time. People simply don’t think about this because it’s unpleasant to worry about; they’d rather focus on something ridiculously improbable like being abducted by an alien. I still go places, but not as many as I might, and I try to limit time spent in a car.
I remember the first morning I woke up in California and turned on the news in my Burbank hotel room. They were reporting a fatal crash on the 405 in Santa Monica. That was my introduction to moving to the Golden State. Whenever I’m out in a car, I see accidents on the side of the road (granted, most appear minor) and hear a siren coming from somewhere, indicating an ambulance or firetruck. They say most car accidents occur near your home, so I don’t feel that much safer dashing to the grocery store than I do trekking up the 405 to see my grandchildren. Parking lots are incredibly dangerous with people backing out of their spots and failing to look around. I see that ALL THE TIME.
That’s just one issue. I’m also cautious about new places, new people, new foods, new technologies. My first assumption is that I won’t understand something and will screw up. This is why I didn’t pump my own gas for years, though it was cheaper, until they took the attendants away. I was petrified I’d do it wrong, spill gas on the ground, and cause an explosion. This is simply the way I think. Whenever my phone or computer is being weird, I think, OK, what stupid thing did I do wrong now, even though 99% of the time it’s not my fault. But that initial thought always pops up. This is one of the reasons I’m hesitant to try any new technology unless my daughters make me. I thought an iPhone would be too complicated, but they insisted, and now I love it.
I think living boldly means being unafraid to try new things. A bold person impulsively decides to travel to a foreign land, even if they can’t afford it, assuming everything will work out ~ and then it does because they meet a billionaire on a mountain who offers them a fabulous new job. Welp, I do not talk to strangers on mountains! Nor do I climb mountains to begin with. Hell, I’ve fallen in my own bathroom and cracked my head, so I have no confidence in my ability to balance on a pile of rocks. Bold people eagerly try new foods and beverages without worrying they’ll get a tummy ache, headache, or some disgusting gross parasite. Bold people make friends with strangers, while I assume that anyone new who strikes up a convo with me must be some kind of scammer. And yes, as Sadje notes, bold people will live their ideals, speak up in the face of injustice, confront abusers, rescue doggies in hot cars, etc. I don’t do these things because they’re scary and/or inconvenient, nor do I participate in marches or demonstrations. I’d be the one hauled off to jail, sprayed with teargas, or attacked by a lunatic. I will quietly call the police if I see someone, including an animal, being hurt or threatened, but that’s all.
The boldest thing I ever did was join dating sites, and that has been documented right here on this blog as an utter disaster. I don’t only mean that the experience as a whole made me feel more anxious and undesirable and lonelier than ever. What I mean is it was physically dangerous at times to meet these strange men, even in public, and also some of them were scammers. A few were stalkers and it took some effort to get rid of them. Luckily, I didn’t ultimately lose anything or get hurt, and I managed to get out before things got even worse ~ I consider my year or so of depression as a reasonable price to pay in order to say good riddance to the whole ordeal. But bold people keep trying. I have friends who’ve been on these sites for 20 years and they’re still optimistic. Gah!
There are quotes attributed to George Carlin, among others, about how life should not be a journey to the grave with the notion of arriving safely, but instead it should be a wild and crazy ride where you slide naked into home plate covered with chocolate, clutching a champagne glass, and screaming “woo hoo!” Um no thank you. Ick. I’ll take the safe, comfortable journey. That’s the thing about bold people ~ they never understand why everyone doesn’t want to be like them. They consider it a defect to crave comfort and security, and they’ll go to great lengths to convince you that you’re wrong and should take more chances. Maybe they’re trying to justify their own imprudence? I don’t know. I do understand the desire to act boldly, gamble, say what the hell, and throw caution to the winds. I have, on a few rare occasions, given into these impulses myself. They’ve always turned out badly, however, so I stopped. I don’t have a problem with risk-takers though; I just wish they’d stop proselytizing and attempting to drag others with them into their mad schemes.
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