Right now I’m wiping the sweat off the brows of a thousand evolutionary biologists who have toiled for ages trying to unearth the reason we take risks. It’s been a long day and I’ve gone through a LOT of tissues.
Flummoxed by thousands of years of idiotically flamboyant and dangerous behaviors they sit smacking their heads on their very nicely carved mahogany desks wondering why and how we manage to thrive anyway.
It’s like the first caveman to roll down a steep precipice and off the cliff before coming to an abrupt stop by hitting the warm mossy bottom of the ravine, standing up and beating his chest in relived horror before running up to the top to do it all again.
We just don’t fucking learn.
And that’s okay.
The roller coaster ride, the tragic attraction to the leather clad bad boy on the motorcycle with the James Dean glower, strip quarters during the summer; all BAD ideas but after work weeks laden with monotony and sameness we all crave an irrational explosion of fun and fear.
I’d never considered myself an adrenaline junkie with an affinity for risky behavior until I looked at my history of “I dare you” antics and weird lifestyle choices. One minute I was a terrified and shaking seven-year old standing just outside the line rope for the Rebel Yell rollercoaster and the next I was a steely survivor of what surely was as close to a near death experience as I’d ever had. It had helped that I’d been goaded and teased about my refusal to ride but a pep talk from an uncle who whispered “if you conquer this rollercoaster, you can do anything else in this park with no problem. Scariest first.” put me over the line. Climb this mountain and everything else would look like an anthill.
It’s the same reason I jumped off the thirty foot cliffs into the water at Indian Lake and dated a guy who had a beard and a guitar after shacking up with someone who acted terrifyingly like “The Beav”; what’s life without a little fun?
At a certain point I began to realize that everyday things I’d done during my life were probably far more dangerous than any perceived daring risk I’d taken during my formative years. Things like using the chainsaw and the full-sized axe to increase the size of the woodpile outside my house and transferring kerosene into the tank while it was still running so as not to lose the warmth it radiated in our subzero kitchen should have rung alarm bells, but alas no. For a long time I suffered from the delusion that my life was mundane and simple.
Little did I know that most kids weren’t fighting off feral animals that lived in the walls or cooking over an open fire while wearing a full down coat…inside.