Friday, November 28, 2008

Jumping off the High Board

I'm not a big risk-taker, and it's making me frustrated and melancholy that I live my life in too tight a way, especially these days: hard times require a big spirit and a willingness to take risks.

My cousin, Barb Wieser, whom I love dearly, has just been visiting me, showing me as she always has, one version of the risk-taker's life.  Barb is amazing: she's a skilled trekker and wilderness guide  She kayaks around the Alaskan coast, making camp wherever she sees a flat bit of shore.  She started two presses; the second, Aunt Lute Books (name for our shared great-aunt, Lute) is still an active small press.  For over two decades, she ran the country's oldest bookstore, Amazon Books in Minneapolis (no connection to the behemoth, which came along after Amazon Bookstore had been up and running for more than twenty years).

And now she's turning her life in  yet another direction: at sixty-plus, she's joined the Peace Corps and is heading for Ukraine.  Barb is a warm and loving woman, a bright presence in the lives of the people who know her; I know her Ukraine experience will challenge and change her, but that she will bring all she has to the task, and that the people she works with will be richer for her presence, as I and her other friends are, too.

We're the same age, Barb and I, but here I sit, tight in my little ball, while she opens and takes in the world.  

I'm trying to learn to change that, so I'm wondering what risks others have taken, things I can learn from and grow.  Let me know.

21 comments:

Libby Hellmann said...

I think some of us are risk-takers; some are not. I do know I am less of a risk taker as I age --I know more and thus am less eager to tempt the devils, such as they are. We all find our value in different ways -- your cousin soundslike an inspiring, dynamic soul, and someone I'd want to be with on a journey or two. But dreamers and writers like you are also inspiring and dynamic, and you already know I'd love to take a journey or two with you, too. (maybe we can knit our way to Peru.. Illinois..)

My biggest risk, aside from hitch-hiking across the country a few decades ago, was moving to Chicago at the age of 28 (also centuries ago) and "starting over." I think it worked out. We'll see.

Second biggest risk: getting married and having/raising children.

Third biggest risk: writing a novel for the first time. And each time thereafter.

Sara Paretsky said...

Thanks, Libby. A warming response.

Sara

Anonymous said...

I can't imagine a bigger psychic risk than exposing your creation, first to publishers and then to the public. Perhaps you have grown accustomed to those risks?

Judy Alter said...

I am comforted to know that someone whose achievements I admire a lot is also not a risk taker. I never have been and often feel I've missed some of life's excitement--travel, etc. I don't think of writing and publishing as risk--I feel secure there--but I agree with Libby Hellman that marriage was a big risk. For me, it didnt work, and I never wanted to try again.

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