I remember being three-years old, almost four, standing in front of a small television at home in Cleveland, Ohio, waiting with my mom and older brother for the launch of the space shuttle Challenger. Being very young, it was absolutely amazing to see a real spaceship kind of like the ones I had seen in cartoons. I don't think I really understood what was going on, but I remember the three of us watching, counting down for liftoff. To a child, it was an absolutely amazing sight, but then disaster happened.
I was only three, but I knew that that spaceship, as I called it, was not supposed to blow up. Even after my mom attempted to explain what happened, I still didn't understand that the people were gone forever. It was maybe at that moment that I decided that space travel, spaceships, astronauts, and spacemen for that matter were not as dreamy as I once thought. Every time I see another launch, I pray that everything goes right for the crew and the shuttle. I literally hold my breath.
It was at such an early age that I became a very cautious person. Not only about careers that involved risk was I cautious, but also any activity that required “throwing caution to the wind.” I used this example of the Challenger disaster to illustrate how at any point in time one can become a “look both ways before crossing the street basket case.” Experiencing something that once seemed exciting go terribly wrong can truly shut one off to new experiences. There are those who can see the value in leading an exciting life or embarking on a career path that involves risk, but for some the risk outweighs the thrill.
For example, as far as risky activities go, one may see a bungy accident, white water rafting accident, or motorcycle wreck and decide that those activities are too dangerous all together just based on one bad experience. I won't ride roller coasters, not because they make me sick, but because I've seen one get stuck. I've never ridden one myself. Thrill seekers, whether their behavior is a hobby or a career, are unique people. Many believe that some amount of risk, even in the smallest portion, is a necessary part of life. I agree to an extent, but for those of us who can't shake the thought of the danger involved, we are usually left standing on the sidelines watching and holding our breaths. If only we had the courage to try something new.
Excitement is a matter of perspective, I guess. Some find joy in simply reading a book or riding a bicycle. I for one, am not always satisfied with standing around watching. While I feel that some things are just senseless, I do dream of having the courage to do something thrilling that will make my pulse race, but then again, that's just out of character for me. I have previously turned down opportunities to engage in exciting career fields. I was very interested, until I learned of the small risk involved. It's quite sad, really. When presented with an chance to play women's professional football, (it really exists and is truly competitive, check out the WPFL) I was ready, willing, and able until I thought of the possibility of injury. Football is my favorite sport next to basketball and soccer (yes America, I love soccer), but I passed on the opportunity to play because it didn't seem safe.
I admire those who can throw caution to the wind (when acting with some good sense) and follow their dreams. Those astronauts who go on those missions despite previous tragedies are inspiring heroes. If only there was a way to throw caution to the wind carefully. Until I figure out a way to do so, I guess I can read about exciting adventures. That's what imagination is for.