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Calculating the right time to take that chance

Taking chances, this concept has captured my attention. It’s good, right? When we have a passion, a calling or something we are searching for sometimes we just need to cast off caution and go for it. Follow the philosophy of “no guts, no glory,” in other words be “bold,” “brave,” “daring.”

To break into acting Hilary Swank moved to Los Angeles with her mother at age 15, and for a time they lived out of a car until there was enough money to rent an apartment. Swank has won two Oscars for leading roles in movies. She and her mother made a gutsy move which resulted in glory.

Cheryl Strayed filled a backpack and spent three months hiking the Pacific Crest Trail to get the right perspective on life. It worked and her memoir was made into a film titled “Wild.”

We all must make choices and often there is an element of risk involved. However, recently I watched a documentary titled Meru and a comment got lodged in my mind.

This film was about mountain climbers, people we would most likely label a risky group. Yet the first time Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin and Renan Ozturk tried to scale the Shark’s Fin on Mount Meru, “the most technically complicated and dangerous peak in the Himalayas” they turned back just 100 meters below the summit.

Why? Anker said he did not want to put the climber’s lives in peril. A massive storm had made progress slow and the climbers were running out of food.

We know that mountain climbers are swept away by avalanches, fall into crevices and succumb to the elements, but they have calculated that the rewards of mountain climbing are worth the chance they take. Yet, under certain conditions they will turn back because the risk is too great.

A few years later this team returned to Meru and conquered the sheet of overhanging granite, 1,500 feet long, known as the Shark’s Fin. They were the first to reach the summit.

This seemed an insurmountable goal, but the team pursued it. For a mountain climber it was a calculated risk. Since we can’t see into the future we must decide whether or not the risk is worth it. My guess it will depend on just how passionate you are about a sport, a skill, a profession, resolving a difficulty or achieving a goal.

Anyone with a passion knows it is something that seems to be a part of your make up. Like breathing, you have to do it. In pursuit of this passion there will be those times of choice; not always life threatening, but deemed risky in some way. Perhaps moving to a place with more opportunities, like Swank, or stepping away from the familiar in order to get a new viewpoint, like Strayed.

Each time we must decide, but those who routinely turn back will never reach the summit.

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