It’s a phrase I hear quite frequently in my life, most often when I tell people I decided to take up short track speed skating at the age of 41. Go ahead, google it.
And then google speed skating accidents.
I’d think I was crazy too.
But the truth is, I didn’t take it up because I’m crazy or because I like to take risks. In fact the opposite is true. I’m the mom who always double and triple checks her kids’ seatbelt buckles. That one annoying vehicle on the highway going the speed limit? That’s me. I wear a helmet when I ride my bike; I cross the street at the corner: I go for my yearly physical, and floss my teeth.
But speed skating isn’t about taking a risk…..or at least a stupid risk. Sure, there’s a chance I could get hurt. There’s also a chance I could trip and fall walking on the sidewalk.
Actually, that happens to me a lot.
But unlike walking on the sidewalk, in speed skating there are numerous checks and measures to ensure I’m as safe as possible. I wear a helmet, neck guard, leather gloves, shin guards and knee pads. If I fall, there are thick pads surrounding the outer edges of the rink to help protect me. This doesn’t mean I won’t get hurt but it does lessen the chance.
That’s not the only unconventional activity I have participated in. Over the past couple of years I have done the CN Tower Edge Walk, went zip flying, got shoved down a hill while strapped in a giant inflatable ball, ran a 5 km obstacle course that included scaling a ten foot wall and jumping over fire, and walked on a Burma rope bridge over 50 feet up in the air. All things a bit off the beaten path but not necessarily risky….because there were safety protocols in place.
I won’t go on a ride at a travelling carnival nor will I bungee jump off a bridge. There are just too many variables for me to consider them safe. But challenge me to participate in a trapeze class at an established circus school and I’m in.
The thing is, taking a risk doesn’t mean it has to be something perceived as dangerous. The person taking a class on painting with water colours is braving just as much risk as I did when I signed up for speed skating. Taking risks is about going outside your comfort zone and trying something new. Sure, it can be a little scary. You might not be great at it; you could even fail. But who knows? You may end up finding something you love and that lights you up from the inside out.
You only get one shot at this thing called life.
Isn’t that worth the risk?