As an avid game player, I have oft enjoyed the board game Risk. It is aptly named, for to win you must eliminate all of your opponents to become the ruler of the world. Often there is a point where you must decide to risk either wiping out another player (thereby gaining your opponent’s countries and any men-replacement cards) or weakening yourself so much that another player will be able to easily destroy you. If you act too soon and without enough men, you will fail and lose. If you hesitate too long, you might lose any advantage you have and again lose the game. It is a matter of wisely assessing the options and then taking an educated gamble. However, even if you have correctly evaluated the best course of action, you might fail. As in life, there are no sure things. In Risk, you use dice to determine the outcome. In life, depending on your world view, there is the will of God, fate, luck, or some combination of these factors that affect the outcome. When I played Risk with friends I have had since high school and there came that point of stepping off the edge, trusting your wisdom and the dice, we had a saying. “God hates a coward.” Then you rolled the dice and took your chances.
Just like “Cleanliness is next to Godliness,” don’t look for that quote in the Bible. I won’t attest to its theological soundness, but there is an element of truth. If you never risk anything, you won’t win the game and will miss out on much of life. Now don’t take this as an endorsement of gambling everything on a roll of the dice. Las Vegas has built huge, glitzy casinos from gamblers with that philosophy. Try to be logical rather than rash in decisions. However, there are times in life when to take that “leap of faith.” A person’s religious path is, of course, the obvious one. It is not provable by any accepted test, yet we cast our lots (and possible afterlife) with the ones we choose. But what about all the other ones in life, like what we do with money, love and what we do with our lives? If we never risk, we will never win. But always logically evaluate the risk of failure against the potential return.
First, consider money. Putting your bankroll on “Hard 6” on the crap table will most likely help MGM Mirage’s City Center casino pay off its mortgage rather than make you rich. It’s risk versus return. Huge risks may have the potential for high return, but seldom pay off. While fortune, as Latin proverb says, may favor the bold, it rarely favors the stupid. Not being one to trust my financial fate to cards or dice, I may be a little prejudiced, but gambling in markets where I can make an educated evaluation rather than a gut one has been my policy. While God might hate a coward, He does not love a sucker. I do not advocate stuffing all your money in a mattress or, not much better, putting it all in the bank. With interest rates what they are, after taxes and inflation, banks are a losing proposition. Personally, I go for a balanced portfolio of stocks, real estate and secure bonds. However, this is not an investment seminar, so I will just say don’t bet all your money in Vegas or stuff it in your Serta. Take wise risks. No charge for this advice.
My next example is love. Being a guy, I think it’s more difficult for a guy in the dating world. Well, at least it was in my day when we rode our dinosaurs on weekend cruises. Asking a girl out had the risk of refusal or, worse yet, acceptance only because no one else had asked. I might add that I have a very attractive older sister who used to use guys like a tube of toothpaste (squeeze all you could get out of them, then toss them aside), so I was cautious. Yet if I had not risked asking the woman who is my wife of forty-one years on a date, my life would have been rather empty. Paul Simon wrote, “If I never loved, I never would have cried.” Yet, who wants to be a rock, an island? The risk of pain is worth the return of love.
I could go on, but I am sure everyone reading this understands the concept. There are many pundits who give advice on the money aspect and columns in the newspaper that give advice on love, yet there is a common thread. Don’t rush into things, but be willing to take a risk. To quote the Bard, “There is a tide in the affairs of men, which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries.” So, when you have a decision to make, even if it requires a bit of risk, remember my motto, “God hates a coward.”
A native Californian, R.L. Cherry has a penchant for living in places that inspire him. That has included five years on the Isle of Man in the British Isles and now his residence in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas, Gold Rush Country. A classic car and hot rod enthusiast, Ron loves to share his his insights and plots. Get to know him at http://www.rlcherry.com/