Editor’s Notebook: A bit more adventure would help everyone

| May 2009

  • KC Compton

  • KC Compton

I’ve never considered myself a daredevil, but I’ll admit I’ve taken a risk or two. I was reminded of this when I read the story on Page 17 about June Pearce, whose daughter arranged a motorcycle ride for her 84th birthday. My response was a hearty “Good for her!”

When I was young, I probably earned the raised eyebrows that accompanied the acknowledgement that I was, in the words of my patient, long-suffering father, “a handful.” I didn’t mean to be, I just didn’t like the idea of sitting out whatever excitement was going on. So, I rode on the back of motorcycles and dove off cliffs into icy lakes and generally said “Why not?” when presented with an option that involved potential harm to life and limb.

A tomboy was what they called us back then, and I have to admit that in all my Western movie-inspired fantasies, I wanted to be the girl who helped ’em steal the horses rather than the pretty miss waiting to be rescued. In my personal rewrite of those predictable stories, the hero kissed his female accomplice in the end and left the pretty miss wondering where she’d gone wrong.

When I became a mother, the idea that I might do something risky and deprive my children of a mother quickly put the brakes on my harum-scarum responses. By the time my daughter was 3 and my son 8, I was a single mom and found that sense of derring-do the only thing that kept the difficulties of my life from becoming a complete grind. We had adventures, my children and I, even if they were only our annual pilgrimage home to Grandmom’s house.

When my children grew up and left home, and I was on my own again, I rediscovered the impulse to take calculated risks. I parachuted, skateboarded and took a bike trek in the Alaskan outback. I’m rarely reckless – I don’t like the idea of mending from broken bones, or dying in a blaze of dopey glory. But I do like the idea of saying “Yes” to adventure when it comes knocking, if there’s a way to manage it.

We waste a lot of time in life thinking we couldn’t, shouldn’t, oughtn’t pursue fun opportunities. I don’t advocate trying to have fun all the time – that’s a recipe for a wasted life – but most of us could reach for the brass ring more. Even if we’re 84 and it’s just a few blocks’ ride on the back of a motorcycle.

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