Thursday, May 2, 2013

Leaning into Risk

By Henry Tseng (Flickr: _MG_6892)
CC-BY-2.0 via Wikimedia Commons
I’ve been raking the yard. A winter’s worth the sticks have fallen from the trees and they need to be moved before the lawn service pulls in. Despite wearing work gloves, after the first half hour of pulling sticks, twigs and dead grass into a pile I had a blister on my right hand. It is right in the soft place between the thumb and index finger, the place where the rake handle pushes into the grip.

The next evening I continued to rake, taking precautions to protect and pad the area with the blister that had broken open and left tender, raw skin.

I raked for an hour and found that my right hand had not sustained anymore damage. However, I had two blisters on my left, one in the same place as the right and another on my palm.

I like to think that this is a result of my tender hands, but I know better. My hands are perennially rough and chapped. The problem is the unfamiliar challenge. I don’t normally grip a wooden handle and lean into that grip pushing and pulling, holding tight. The movement was bound to cause damage.

I’ve been thinking about life’s risks. Last night, in a weekly class, I asked participants to talk about the life-changing risks they’d taken. The group shared stories from their educational experiences, vocations, and relationships. The stories, while often triumphant, included risk that had them pushing and pulling against life. To get through their choices there was often struggle, doubt and pain. It was as if to accomplish a goal, “blisters” were inevitable.

As I look at my damaged hands, I understand that spring lawn clean-up is not really risky business. But to set a goal, to work toward it, will mean a bit of pushing and pulling, leaning into the challenges.

To avoid a few blisters is to leave life cluttered and dormant.

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