Worth is Worthless without Risk

Yes, I understand, you wretched person. You are faced with choices and challenges every day; you have to make decisions, to determine where you will invest your time, money, effort, love, and other God-given resources. And what if the choice you make does not work out? It has happened before. You were left broken, helpless, lost, questioning every choice you made. You made a very bad bet, once in your life, and you are still paying the interest.

And so here you sit, still as a stone, for fear of knocking over the precariously piled-up stack of chips that you have successfully gathered over the years, adding to it one chip at a time, terrified of the possibility that it all comes crashing down.

Get Over It

But here’s the thing: it is not the tower itself that has value, but the individual chips that make it up. Whether they are in a stack or in a heap, a thousand chips is a thousand chips. Should the tower collapse, as long as none of the pieces are lost, nothing is lost.

And should you make a wager once more, and once again it does not pay off, the game goes on. You can get back what you lose, and then some. It’s all about learning from your losses.

And should you encounter a situation that you never have seen before, and you fear you don’t know how to approach it, approach it anyway. When has opportunity ever presented itself in a form that was not different from other chances that have presented themselves to you previously? If it were exactly the same, it would not be an opportunity, but another version of the sameness that you find yourself stuck in, day in and day out.

Become a Better Better

Be not afraid of what comes. Be willing to take big punches to dish out big hits. Go all in once in a while. Trust in your judgment. Trust in your worth, and in your ability to create and accumulate worth.

Your willingness to risk what you have is, in some respects, what shows others that it has value.

Heroes and Dirt

The man does not choose the hour; the hour chooses the man.

Let’s face it. How many people choose to be a hero? Is it a rational choice to be a hero? Sure, there’s the whole “warm glow” one gets from being the savior, the cavalry, the one who can fix things when nobody else can. It’s an extraordinary feeling of vindication-slash-affirmation; all seems lost, everyone says that it’s impossible to get through, and in you come, cleaning up the uncleanable mess.

But that’s the thing: before the vindication comes the mess. Who wants to get in the middle of a mess? By definition, getting in the middle of a mess will get you messed up. Going by various meanings, that can mean that you get tainted, or injured, or damaged in some way. That’s a definite outcome, or at least, more definite than the possibility of the situation getting better after your intervention. So given that, it’s no surprise that a lot of people just hang back, do not step up, and say to themselves “I’m not going down there”. But the thing is, when nobody does anything, what will happen? It’s just going to keep getting worse. A disease untreated can become a plague; a riot unbroken can become anarchy. So to restore the natural order of things, there has to be at least one person who will man up. Someone who decides that the line has been crossed, and that something has to be done about it. So that person, however reluctantly, has to answer the call:

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There’s the key clause: “something has to be done”. There has to be an active effort to reduce the signal-to-noise ratio, to turn the chaos into order. Things generally do not fix themselves but for the intervention of the able and brave; messes do not clean themselves up without someone willing to roll up his sleeves and get dirty.

Of course, getting into the thick of it all can mean that you’ll get dirty too. We’ve all heard it: how going to war can scar veterans psychologically; how going into politics and successfully gaining office can put even the most honest politician in the pockets of anti-populist agenda-driven lobbies; even how the hardworking career man, in an effort to earn for his or her family, will end up neglecting them in the end. Fighting the good fight where it needs to be fought can lead you to get lost, even corrupted:

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So the man who has heroism thrust upon him should not approach the task with simple rose-tinted, wide-eyed naivete. He has to be hopeful enough to ignore the odds against him, but be realistic enough to accept the possibility of getting lost or tainted; that way, he can guard himself against it. We don’t need people who are pristine, stainless, and shouting out the way things should be from their ivory towers, but we don’t need people who, in their focus on their immediate ground-level situation, have zero perspective, and have no regard for how broken and corrupt they end up becoming.

To be a hero, you have to be willing to go down in the dirt. But remember to wash it off; it’s on you, not part of you.

PS: The pictures are of cards taken from a Talecraft deck. Check them out if you’re into storytelling and games.