For most of my adult life I have lived life rather on the safe side taking few chances that would endanger my physical and financial well being. I did few activities that could be considered risky and did not gamble either on the stock market or in the casinos. I almost always obeyed the traffic laws and speed limits and came to a complete stop at stop signs. I usually crossed streets at crosswalks. I worked at the same company my entire career and changed jobs within the same division of that company only 3 times in almost 40 years. I obeyed the law and rules of society and took few chances and shortcuts.
But four years ago something happened that dramatically changed the way I looked at life. At the end of 2009 I was diagnosed with cancer. The doctor said that if the cancer was caught early enough I would likely have an 80% chance of surviving. To me this meant that I had more than a 20% chance of dying. Instead of having many more years of life in front of me my life could be quickly cut very short very soon. I underwent 2 years of cancer treatment and it is now 2 years since the end of my last treatment and I am cancer free. I am still some years away from declaring myself cured but now there is hope of a longer future. I underwent intense radiation treatment which likely will shorten my life a decade or two from now but at present I may have ten or more years to look forward to with a bit of luck. During treatment I had much time to reflect on how I should live my life. It became abundantly clear that I could no longer be secure in the feeling that I will have a long life. I could have a relapse or even suddenly die of something else at my advancing age.
I’ve been retired for over 4 years and am no longer a spring chicken. My body is starting to noticeably grow older. I have recently notice a decline in my balance, eye sight, and hearing. It seems to require more effort to get out of a chair and I have a few more stiff joints than I used to have. I try to keep fit and go to the gym to work out but I can feel age catching up with me. Life is simply too uncertain and too short to play it too safe anymore. If I wait too long to take that ideal vacation or do something adventurous that I always wanted to do I may die or even worst suffer a debilitating stroke before I get a chance to do it. I now realize that this is the time to take a few more chance and do the things I want to do before I am unable.
I’d like to go up in a hot air balloon to see Africa and perhaps go skydiving. I’d like to try to scuba dive near some coral reefs to see the colorful coral and beautiful fish. I’d like to hike Half Dome in Yosemite and see the wild animals in Africa in a safari. I’d like to see Victoria Falls and the Northern Lights. There is so much that I’d like to see and experience while I am able. I’d also like to spend some time away from the hustle and bustle of suburban life and enjoy the solitude much closer to nature to help cleans my mind.
I am now seriously contemplating and planning to do some of these activities that I once considered too risky. Life is simply too uncertain to miss opportunities to live life to its fullest. As time goes by I will be less physically able to do some of these things so why not do it now or fairly soon. I don’t plan to do anything that is considered very risky but every time I walk across the street or take a ride on the freeway I am risking my life. I’ve simply gotten used to these risks. So why not do other things with minor risks before I am killed by a heart attack, stroke, cancer, or simply run over by a car while crossing a street?