Saturday, June 23, 2012

Leap of Risk


To experience a feeling, event, or understanding, you must endure it, be present for it, participate rather than be a passive observer.  From your own experiences with experience, it is often a hard-won encounter with reality, in some ways like ingesting an anti-depressant drug because of the way memories of past pain and suffering or their polar companions, joy and exultation, tend to level off at the rat-tail ends of the curve.

Experience is in its way more than a catalogue of things that have happened to you or things you wished to happen that did not take place; it is a kind of metric by which you assess potential outcomes.  You use your experience to calculate the level of risk, which with promptitude you measure against your previous experiences with risk taking.

If you allow yourself a high score when it comes to successful outcomes of risk, you feel free to glow in the confidence of believing you have good instincts.  You cannot help thinking you’ve got a handle on Reality after all, in spite of earlier times when you’d thought your ambitions were to be things you took out only in private, while you sat in a low-level hum of envy in the presence of individuals who’d found ways to achieve ambitions such as yours.

If your experience with risk were somehow presented to you in balance sheet form and your discovery was that you’d not done all that well as a result, you don’t think you’d stop taking the kinds of risk you’ve taken in the past.  You might edit them somewhat, look for newer risks, look for more things to factor in.  But there has to be that sense of confidence that comes from having a body of experience as a guide and so, as a part of your wish to be a storyteller, you’d take storyteller risks, which is to say you’d jump at what seemed relevant bridges between what you know and what you wish to know.

One more failure cannot change you too much at this point in your individual story arc.

You are making somewhat of a leap here with the observation that many experiences are not always so reliable.  The Mark Twain observation about a cat on a hot stove is an exception, to which you add your own observation that experience is not always the best teacher.  It is good to be aware of your experiences but not bound by them.  If history is, as some cynical observers have suggested, outcomes written by winners, your history of wins is to be balanced against your history of losses, to get a closer look at a true history.

It is your experience that an anticipated event, when it takes place, is always more pleasant than anticipated or less, but your anticipations are rare occasions of exactitude.  Your anticipations of dread are afflicted in similar degree; an event is worse or better than the dread would have you believe.

You’re amused by your reaction when some risk you’ve taken causes a miserable result, causing you to rue not listening to your intuition, which is based, among other things, on your experiences.  You should have listened.  Right.  But when your risk produces a result you like, you give yourself metaphoric pats on the back.

Go on taking risks, but as well go on being prepared to execute second and third and fourth drafts.  See yourself, either as yourself now or as an extension of yourself through one or more of the characters you create, always in some form of action, always questioning, always mindful of consequences, always prepared to take the leap of risk.

If real time does not afford you the opportunity to do a second or third draft, don’t worry, your fictionalized version of it will.

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