A couple people recently have asked about the risks I take. On one hand, as they point out, I play it extremely safe by eating healthy foods and abstaining from alcohol and drugs. On the other hand, I climb construction cranes and go skydiving. Isn't this a contradiction?
It isn't - at least in my "eccentric" way of thinking. The difference is that one type of risk is an incidental risk, and the other is a sustained risk. I'm not really concerned with how dangerous a particular activity is. I know that jumping onto a moving freight train is more dangerous than eating a cookie. I'm worried on the "expected value" of the event. In other words, the average harm per hour times the amount of hours I'll be doing the activity.
If I climb a radio tower, there's a very small chance that I'll kill myself doing so. I don't mind taking that risk, though, because I'm only going to spend a total of ten hours or so doing it in my entire life. The odds probably won't catch up with me.
Eating healthy food is different. I'll spend tens of thousands of hours of my life eating food. Those odds definitely WILL catch up with me. The simple habit of eating as healthily as I possibly can will directly affect how much time I have on this planet. That's a decision with real effects.
This equation is always running through my mind. I made the mistake of riding my friend's 1000cc superbike. Now I'm checking craigslist three times a day to find a deal on a Hayabusa, one of the fastest production bikes in existence.
If I do buy a motorcycle, though, I won't ride it a lot. I won't ride it in bad weather, will probably rarely take it on the highway, and will sell it as soon as the novelty wears off. My guess is that I'll put a total of less than a thousand miles (of riding in perfect conditions) on it before getting rid of it. That is accepting some risk, but I'm doing my best to limit it.
There's another factor in play in my risk-related decision making. Some things are worth taking risks for. Others aren't. The kinds of risks that I take are the kinds of risks that make life interesting. I like having an extremely safe normal life and compressing my risks into short amounts of time where I'm face to face with danger. In a weird way, those sorts of experiences make me appreciate life more. They make me feel like I've lived a full life.
I'd be willing to bet that all things considered, I have a longer expectancy than average, and will have a lot more adventure and excitement than average, too. My goal has never been to eliminate risk, only to make it count for something.
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