My friend sucked the last stream of craft brew out of his mug, gulped, sighed and pounded the tankard to the tabletop with the zeal of a man who’d just broken Matt Prater’s NFL field-goal record.
Then he belched, sounding something akin to a fully mature bison.
His ship had come in. The brass ring was his, and the world was now his personal oyster.
“I don’t have to risk anything again,” he said over another rising stomach eruption.
Great mother of God, I thought. How depressing is that?
Maybe my refusal to buy in was steeped in envy, given that not only has my ship not come in, it’s apparently lost at sea. But there it was, and I couldn’t shake it.
How could you go through life without risk at some level? Isn’t that like shelling out a half-day’s salary to see an IMAX movie and knowing how it ends before you get ripped off for popcorn?
At its very core, risk is nothing but uncertainty. It’s the foundation — or more accurately, the lack thereof — of the concept.
For some, risk carries a heavy dose of negative connotation. Like Nagasaki or Mt. St. Helens.
Mushroom clouds and destruction, a life-sucking negative vortex from which there is no escape. The uncertainty is overwhelming and, in some cases, all-consuming.
Don’t get me wrong. There are lines to be drawn. One could say those who will run with bulls through Pamplona are taking a risk. But I’m not sure that’s entirely precise. There’s a great deal of certainty surrounding those folk.
It’s certain that they’ve lost all manner of their minds.
Standing between a snot-blowing bull and where it wants to go is mad, not risky. There’s little to be uncertain about. Either you get trampled to blood sausage or you don’t.
Stepping into the unknown realm, however, is a bovine of a different stripe entirely.
Consider that it’s not the danger lurking in risk’s mist but the uncertainty of it all. There’s the rush — not knowing what will happen yet crafting a solution when the unanticipated occurs.
The opaque mist of risk is also where miracles live.
For my friend who’s done taking chances, there’s little left to do but order another beer, which isn’t an altogether bad thing. We just know how it turns out.
Put it on cruise control, get to the bottom of the glass and hunker in the bunker until inevitable infinity comes knocking.
For me, I think I’ll keep pushing, keep opening doors to see what’s on the other side. I’ll embrace uncertainty as a miracle’s portal.
But first, I think I’ll have another beer, myself.
Jim Mayfield is a former staff writer for the Daily Reporter. He lives in Irvington.