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2024 Grateful 51: Finding ease in risk

Once upon a time, I had a financial advisor. It seems like a million lifetimes ago. They had me do a risk profile and I topped the risk-averse charts. That surprised me. And it didn’t.

I was one of the many who were caught short by the 2008 crisis, one of the many who had strongly (and wrongly) believed in the solidity of banks. Everything I had was in bank shares. I went from having some money to having none overnight. Literally.

I had worked hard and saved hard for that money. And in a flash, it was gone, taking with it any sense of security I had.

Many moons ago, I did three rounds of interviews for a job that paid $6/hour. When my pharma-rep Honda-Prelude-driving salary-and-commission friend asked me to skive off work for a play day, I’d agree only if she wrote me a cheque for $48 to cover lost wages. If I didn’t work, I didn’t get paid.

Life was simpler then.

I had very little so I had little to worry about. But no matter how little I had, I always had enough.

As the years progressed, fortunes changed.

On the brink of a six-figure salary, I had a flash of insight. I knew that if I crossed the line, I’d be doomed. Money, rather than being a means to an end would become the end itself.

So, I did what many do on the TV quiz shows – I cashed out. I didn’t risk it all on a final play that, if successful, would see me earning some serious dosh. Instead, I took an 80% cut in pay and went back to where I wanted to be.

I went home.

Life was good. Until the crash. Until I lost it all.

I had to start over. And I did. I worked hard. I saved hard. But that nagging insecurity wouldn’t go away.

Others got into cryptocurrencies and made millions. I couldn’t take that risk.

More still had investment portfolios, buying and selling stocks and shares, trading up – bigger cars, bigger houses, more holidays. Not me.

And it wasn’t just money.

Numerous friends have had eye surgery to correct their vision. I’d love to not have to wear glasses but that eye surgery stuff? Nah. It’s only been around 30 years. It’s far too soon.

Risk-averse. Me.

Today, I helped himself move large sheets of wood into the barn. After six weeks of waiting, we had a delivery yesterday to floor a 220 sqm attic. It’s part of an ongoing renovation that’s only about three years behind schedule. Earlier on, in the project, I’d lie awake at night wondering what I’d gotten myself into. I’d worry that I’d never get the money to finish the next step. I’d tie myself in knots at the thoughts of eggs and baskets and a repeat of 2008 – this time for political rather than economic reasons.

But somewhere, the fear abated, replaced by a certainty that although nothing looks like it’s going to plan, everything is under control.

Room with dirty green waills with electric writing cut into channels - the floors is unswept. There's and old over standing next to a wine barrell slightly off centre. The wall on the right is marked with soot as if there'd been a fire there
The old summer kitchen …
Room with bookshelves along a yellow back wall into which sits a brown three-seater chesterfield leather sofa. Above the sofa is a series of three paintings in oranges and yellows. Opposite is a two-seater in the same style and in between a square coffee table with curve wrought iron lets. To the right against the a white wall is a small end table on which sits a pewter lamp with a brown and cream shade. Above the lamp on the wall is a digital painting - a circular image in a square white frame.
… is now the library.

The compulsion I feel to finish this project is driven by forces far stronger than I. It’s literally in God’s hands.

The inimitable John O’Donohue, in his poem For a New Beginning, sums the journey up beautifully:

In out-of-the-way places of the heart,
Where your thoughts never think to wander,
This beginning has been quietly forming,
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.
For a long time it has watched your desire,
Feeling the emptiness growing inside you,
Noticing how you willed yourself on,
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.
It watched you play with the seduction of safety
And the gray promises that sameness whispered,
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,
Wondered would you always live like this.
Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with energy and dream,
A path of plenitude opening before you.
Though your destination is not yet clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is at one with your life’s desire.
Awaken your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.
Having eschewed the seduction of safety, I’m learning to find ease in risk. And for that I’m grateful.

From his book ‘To Bless the Space Between Us’ (US) / Benedictus (Europe). Ordering Info: https://johnodonohue.com/store

8 Responses

  1. Lovely work on the library you both should be proud of the work and in the end we don’t know how things will fall between nations. And we only know to act when we see the need. It will be clear. Love and peace.

      1. I just went to the Sacred Space site and like it a lot. When will your bit be published and will it be credited to you?

          1. Lovely work Mary. I’ll be reading them; thoughtful and timely and heart felt. Thank you.

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