For some reason (maybe my unconscious?) I am still poking around in het book by Adam Phillips, On Kissing, Tickling and Being Bored. Maybe I just like the title. Now I am reading chapter 3: On Risk and Solitude where Phillips writes that if we know (or he would say make conscious) what we consider to be a risk, perhaps we will discover what we value.

This got me thinking about what risks I take and what it says about my values. My granddaughter Lydia is amazingly brave when it comes to physical risks. She skydives. I am not that way. When Lydia was 6, her birthday party was held at a venue that had miniature slides, crawl through tunnels, balance beams, and obstacles to conquer. Being her grandmother, of course I showed up despite the noise. Our relationship has always been important to me.

Seeing her agile moves on the equipment I wanted to be with her, and I imagine unconsciously that I also wanted to be like her. I wanted to be nimble. In pursuit of this dream, I left the safety of the table where the adults were having snacks. I was going to be the Super Cool Grandma and join her! She has always called me TT – so I wanted to be a Terrific TT.

I don’t remember much after leaving the table except tripping over a balance beam, hitting my head on a pull up bar and trying to navigate obstacles that were in my way of being with my precious granddaughter. I do remember clearly Lydia pulling me aside, putting her hand on my arm and saying sternly, “TT – Go sit down.” She helped me know that that playground was too risky for me. The risk of trying to navigate it happened because of how much I valued my relationship with her.  

When I read Phillips about risk, it occurred to me that I am once again facing decisions about physical risk. I am fully vaccinated. Wendell is fully vaccinated. Is it worth the risk to eat in a restaurant again? How much of a risk is it? I want to see the ocean. How much of a risk is it to board a plane? I want to go on a road trip. How much of a risk is it to stay in a motel?

An article in The Des Moines Register on May 19, 2021, noted that behavior is influenced more by personal risk calculations than it is by laws. I think that is what Phillips is trying to help us do – design our own personal risk calculation.  He is saying that when we know our values, we can calculate what we are willing to risk. This post has focused on physical risk but what about psychological risks? Publishing my memoir felt like a risk. It wasn’t easy showing all my shortcomings. I decided to go ahead with it (risk) because I hoped it would help others know that personal change, though it may take a while, is possible. As a retired psychotherapist, I feel strongly about psychological wellness.

When you hear the word risk – do you think of physical risks or psychological risks? Which are easier for you?


8 Responses

  1. Seems like a “both/and”.
    Physical risk will affect the sense of psychological risk. And psychological risk will have physical manifestations.
    Someone once said to me, “ There’s risk and there’s risky.” It has, ever since, helped me put things into perspective.

    Beautiful picture of you and your lovely granddaughter. 💞

    • Oh Nancy – I love that – There’s risk and there’s risky! I find that helpful somehow though it would be difficult to explain exactly why!
      Thanks for commenting online – though however you wish to get in touch is fine. I so appreciate your feedback!

  2. Great post Nicki!
    I have to learn to write like this—inviting a conversation. You did it well! Cute story about granddaughter also.

    I do think of risk differently in context. As a creator and entrepreneur there is emotional risk, reputation risk, financial risk as well. One big risk smorgasbord. The video work I took on was awash in risk. I run and hike. In those realms it is about physical risk.

    Somehow practice and familiarity reduce the risk but don’t really take it away. Being cautious remains a good thing to uphold our basic survival instincts.

    Fascinating to realize how contextual one work can be. Ah, the specifics of words and why the written word is so much harder to correctly interpret versus spoken words with their richness of expression.

    So thank you for making me stop and think today. 😊

    Please get back to living your life. I had to coach my cousin through a way to view risk of returning to outside the home bubble. My view is I start each day with an empty glass of risk. Each encounter with people adds to the glass. My balancing act is to not overflow it. I’ve traveled by plane and kept my distance with other aspects of the trip. In my office I see people so limit my other exposure during the week. And still plan to wear a mask for awhile because I don’t trust all who claim to be vaccinated. Find your way to a level of risk that’s comfortable. Find the ocean!


    • Cara – thank you for your kind words, much appreciated.
      I like everything you mention – how practice and familiarity reduce risk but don’t make it disappear entirely.
      Learning to write is a risk isn’t it?
      Your words about getting back to living life are so helpful. Very inspiring. It’s all about balance isn’t it?
      Thanks so much for reading and giving me feedback – I learn from you!

  3. Hi Nicky,
    Have a wonderful retreat. I thought initially you were going somewhere, then realised you’re not. I’m sure over four days you’ll har some hard times and then be blessed.
    Physical risks have always been hard for me. My mother was a great one for ‘Don’t do that you’ll fall”. A Women and Outdoors course when I was 50ish got me to some interesting experiences – wind-surrfing, a little abseiling, rafting, a flight in a glider. It was communal and safe and encouraging. That gave me the courage to do the Lost World trip. I’d been fascinated by a magical picture of the tomo (shaft) and initial cave. You may have seen it in one of my first two books, but I’ve attached it here for you. If you google Images Lost World NZ, you’ll see it. I once thought I’d do a tandem parachute jump, but couldn’t cope with being strapped to an unknown guy. And bungy jumps – I don’t want to risk my eyes and ankles. Some risks, I’d push myself to take – others not.
    Psychotherapy was an ongoing risk, and as you’ve said publishing personal books is a huge one. Another one for me was going to Art School in 2004 as a total artistic klutz. The process was very difficult, but I stuck it out, and eventually could do thingsI hadn’t been able to do before – get a painting verging on what I had imagined. Now doing my drama class for seniors is pushing me a bit. I’ve always been a non-performer. But it’s supportive and communal – and fun.
    Being older, prudence kicks in – I don’t want to break anything and cause other folk work and worry, so I stick to main paths when I’m walking.

    • Hi Trish Thanks for chiming in on Risk. I’m excited to Goggle Lost World NZ!
      I love how you said you don’t want to break anything because of its effect on others. Wow – that is so unselfish.
      I want to be like you! I don’t want to break something because of the Pain!
      Thanks for reading and commenting!

  4. Love this post, Nicky! “TT–go sit down!–so adorable!

    I am much less likely these days to take physical risks than psychological ones–I’m thinking that my body may be less resilient than my spirit!

    • Diane – I think that is a wise approach – one I feel very comfortable with myself!
      Thanks for reading and commenting!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *