There’s the adage about horseback riding, If you fall off the horse, get right back on. I started riding horses when I was five or six. I clearly remember feeling the wind knocked out of me, dust settling and scratching my throat and tongue, and the vibrations of the hooves pounding into the earth around me, growing distant as the horse took off around the arena.
I needed a lot of persuading to get back on. But I did.
The first time I went rock climbing, I rented a harness, shoes and belay device, walked over to a bench to suit up, but with one foot in the harness—I froze. Not for me, I thought. I grabbed the equipment, dropped it back off at the counter and didn’t even ask for a refund.
Six months later, my friend talked me into trying it again. She took me to the gym and “showed me the ropes.” Now, I love it.
The first time I got on a motorcycle as a passenger was over the summer. This past weekend I took the Basic Rider Course through the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. When I rode for the first time on Saturday, I felt free, ready to hit the open road—and that was just first gear! Then I fell. Three times. (In neutral!) But I noticed something different with motorcycle riding: I didn’t need anyone to coax me into getting back on. I did need help getting the bike up, but after my third fall the instructor told me it was over and that I had to leave. I asked for one final chance, and I made it through the next five hours of class and all day Sunday, tough turning exercises, got into third gear, and learned how to stop–without falling! I am officially licensed to drive a motorcycle.
Besides the on-bike experience, we spent classroom time discussing the unforgiving nature of motorcycle riding, risk assessment, risk management, and how to make very calculated risks.
That’s what it’s all about it. Everything we do has its own degree of risk. Although we may do everything right, we could carry the consequences of someone else’s negligence. (I should know, I write blogs every day for a personal injury attorney—often times about motorcycle accidents!) Being a writer comes with inherent risks too: Risk of rejection (which is paralyzing to more writers than you know), failure, a bad review, offense, financial and legal risks. Wouldn’t it be easier to just be a reader? Easier to watch horses running through a field? Easier to marvel the mountain from the base? Easier to watch someone else enjoy riding a motorcycle?
None of these things are easy. Without taking highly calculated risks and without testing our own abilities, we would never know our true creative potential. We would just be kicking the dirt while holding carrots to the velvety muzzle of a horse, lonely mountains in the distance, and living on a dead end with a library full of books with spines stronger than our own.
Do the math. Calculate your own risks. And write. Naked.