The Perils of Perils

My girlfriend’s father is a reliably cautious man. He frets when his grandchildren swing too high, walk around barefoot in the sandboxes or when they sit too close to the television. He is always the first to arrive at an airport for his flight (bar one or two flight desk attendants). He was trained as pharmacist, and he cannot comprehend why anyone would ever want to put themselves into a remotely dangerous profession, for example being a journalist or an Uber driver (who knows what sort of people you will pick up?)

While this mode of living has certainly permitted him to live for the period that he lived thus far – it also presents some challenges. Being a retired man, he doesn’t spend a lot of time with people aside from his wife and kids/grandkids, the waitresses at the one restaurant they frequent and occasionally the postman, when he’s signing for packages. As a way to alleviate this isolated living style, we suggested that he take on some volunteer roles, perhaps a part time job. This has proved a difficult task – volunteer roles often involve handing out food to homeless people, interacting with at risk youth, or caring for old people who might suddenly and thoughtlessly perish – none of these things fall within his safety criteria. The key problem it would seem, is people and their unpredictable nature, coupled with the fact that “doing” anything, really, seems to involve a potential risk of injury or at least discomfort.

But maybe these are sensible considerations. Perhaps the mantras about risk and reward are bogus and living a cautious life does not lead to unhappiness, and the romantic notions of facing great risk and taking leaps of faith may indeed be foolish propaganda for adrenaline junkies who don’t have the stomach to live a long and uneventful, if somewhat lonely, life.

I wouldn’t know though – I’m too busy walking barefoot in sandboxes and talking to strangers.

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