Just how important is safety in a happy and complete life?
Don’t get me wrong. I have known people with little regard for their own well-being, be it physical or otherwise. Some of these are confirmed idiots. Whether they are just non-thinking zombies or the overly entitled who expect someone else to look out for them, they lay outside this commentary and deserve no further thought. However, fear of failure, fear of death, fear of the unknown; these all hinder us at some stage of our life. We are taught to seek safety. Everything is a balancing act; a never-ending series of choices sometimes with many possibilities and I feel strongly we often reap what we sow. Mostly, we drift along with the current of our culture, our circle of friends, down the river of expectations or wherever else circumstance leads. These thoughts are just an introduction to a thought I want to share.
I found this quote in a book I read when I was very young. This influenced my thought deeply throughout my formative years. Not in immediate risk taking, but as a real thought on what safety is to us all.
But if you judge safety to be the paramount consideration in life you should never, under any circumstances, go on long hikes alone. Don’t take short hikes alone, either — or, for that matter, go anywhere alone. And avoid at all costs such foolhardy activities as driving, falling in love, or inhaling air that is almost certainly riddled with deadly germs. Wear wool next to the skin. Insure every good and chattel you possess against every conceivable contingency the future might bring, even if the premiums half-cripple the present. Never cross an intersection against a red light, even when you can see all roads are clear for miles. And never, of course, explore the guts of an idea that seems as if it might threaten one of your more cherished beliefs. In your wisdom you will probably live to be a ripe old age. But you may discover, just before you die, that you have been dead for a long, long time.
—Collin Fletcher The Complete Walker.
If you are not familiar with Colin Fletcher’s writings it is worth knowing that he helped create the backpacking movement in the form we know today by his seminal book “The Complete Walker” in all it’s revisions. Starting life as a Royal Marine Commando in the Second World War, Fletcher eventually ended up in the United States and began his writing career with his book The Thousand-Mile Summer about his hike describing his walk along the length of California. Check out his other titles HERE.
The Wilderness isn’t a place to escape to as so many refer to it. It is a place to be, just as valid, if not more so, as the comforts and safety of civilization.