Have you ever noticed that we take more risks as children than as adults? Why is that? For some reason, I was struck by this and began thinking about it as it related to myself.
I know this isn’t true of everyone, but it certainly seems true for me. In thinking about some of the “risks” I’ve taken as a child, I recall two things that as an adult, I’m not sure I would actually do. Surprisingly, both happened during summer visits to Zambia.
The first was on a visit to a farm owned by cousins or cousins of cousins. I never quite know or can always keep track of the familial relationships. Anyway, we were on the farm and someone suggesting the kids, (i.e., my brother and I) milk some cows. I got excited and desperately wanted to do it. My mom took pause but I was insistent (as was the rest of the family present pushing my mom to agree). She did, albeit reluctantly. So, I milked a cow in Africa. The next logical step would be to drink the milk. Which I did. I can’t remember much about what it tasted like but I have a memory of drinking it and feeling fine. Now, however, I don’t know if I would have done it.
The second was when we went to Victoria Falls. One of my uncles was with us and he took my brother and I under his wing. I remember we were walking around the falls and somehow ended up at the top. I’m not sure if you could get there today, but we weren’t restricted then. The sound of the water rushing from the Zambezi River down the drop onto the massive rocks and water basin below created a loud cacophony of rushing water in my ears. My uncle cupped his hands and took a drink of water as it cascaded over the edge. He called me over and cupped his hands again, offering me a sip. I took it and wanted to do the same with my own hands. I’m sure he, as the adult, knew the risk and made sure I was secure near him. He stayed with me atop the falls as I cupped my hands to drink the water.
As adults, do we think about and understand the consequences of what could happen and allow that to give us pause? Often, those seconds that it takes our brains to calculate the situation seem to hold us back. Whether we do something or not, we are human and we make mistakes. The fear of that coupled with failure are the worst things that weigh on us.
Taking a risk is a leap of faith in a lot of ways. There is a range of things that can be defined as a risk. I think that the way I define it is different than someone else’s. A few years ago, I was at a low point in my life. I lost my job and was finding it very difficult to find another. Having an interest in baking and a drive to learn more about it, I decided to take the plunge and enroll in pastry school. It was a huge risk for me, financially and professionally. I thought that my career path was set and it never occurred to me to find another. I am lucky in that I found a job that marries my educational backgrounds in a way I never thought it could. But then, though I was being positive about the change and the adrenaline from the excitement of actually doing something was high, I didn’t know what was waiting at the end for me.
On a side note, I was looking for old pictures from my childhood to include with this post. I was sure there was at least one. There probably is, I need to hound my mom for it and post it once I find it. At any rate, it struck me as interesting how pictures define memories now, yet the lack of pictures can still allow us to hold onto a memory.
What do you think? Do kids take more risks or adults?