There’s tremendous appeal to me in charting unexplored territories, doing things I’ve never done. Perhaps it’s the risk associated with taking bold steps that I find intriguing. Or maybe it’s the promise of learning the limits of my courage. Whatever it is, it is almost entirely mental. Rarely have I ever actually followed through on my bold ideas, walking the tightrope, as it were, without a net.
As a newly-minted college graduate, my friend Paul Williams and I talked about traveling to India to explore the country and learn what we could. But I didn’t go to India. At various points in my life since then, I’ve considered doing some “crazy” things like walking or bicycling across the USA. One of the more recent ideas was to work at 52 different jobs in 52 different places over a period of 52 weeks and write a book about it. I didn’t bicycle across the USA and I didn’t work at 52 different jobs. Any one of those things would have taken a certain amount of courage, just as exploring India would have done. The fact that I only talked about these adventures, but didn’t actually pursue them, I suppose, is ample evidence of the limits of my courage.
On the other hand, I’ve twice started my own business. The first time, when I lived in Chicago, was a flop; but I learned a lot from that flop. The second time was a success, in many respects, but I suspect I would have enjoyed it longer had I taken some risks and launched into new ventures along the way, instead of just thinking about them. Had I executed some of my more interesting ideas instead of just planning them, I suspect I might have gotten “fired up” about them. The fact that I’ve taken the risks associated with starting a business from scratch suggests I have the capacity to be a risk-taker.
These thoughts about what I wish I’d done versus what I’ve actually done have the potential of making me regret the things I’ve not done. That is an unhealthy way of looking at one’s life and has the potential of further limiting the likelihood of exploration in the future. I won’t allow either of those things to happen. At the risk of wallowing in a cliché, I will take the position that I can do things today and tomorrow and the next day that I have not done before. I can revisit old ideas and invent new ones. Courage isn’t born of youth; it’s born of a thirst for experience.
So, what does all this portend for the future? I can’t say with any certainty, yet, but I believe I will be in for some adventures in the coming months and years. I just have to train myself to act on my ideas and be willing to abandon those that prove untenable.