I was about 9. Our family had made the migration to Orange County, California, in pursuit of a new life. Adventure was the nature of our journey provoked by the loss of a business back there and a hope for a better life up ahead.
Soon relatives came to visit and on the agenda was a visit to the recently opened Disneyland. When we got to the ticket gate we discovered there was a choice to make. A Disneyland “Big 10” Ticket Book cost $3.50 for adults, $3.00 for juniors, $2.50 for children. It provided one “A” ticket, one “B” ticket, two “C” tickets, three “D” tickets, and three “E” tickets. For a dollar more, guests could buy a “Jumbo 15” Ticket Book, which provided two “A” tickets, two “B” tickets, three “C” tickets, four “D” tickets, and four “E” tickets.
Each ticket listed what rides it would admit you to. The “A” tickets got you a ride on four attractions on Main Street. But the “E” ticket, well that got you onto the Matterhorn, the Submarine, the Monorail, or the Jungle Cruise! Not surprisingly, there were never enough “E” tickets. Our thirst for adventure and thrills far outshined the less flashy life on Main Street.
These days our thirst for adventure is still alive…as far as theme parks go. But it seems it is cooling off when it comes to the nature of living.
Ben Casselman‘s article in the Wall Street Journal on June 2, 2013, says that “Three long-running trends suggest the U.S. economy has turned soft on risk: Companies add jobs more slowly, even in good times. Investors put less money into new ventures. And, more broadly, Americans start fewer businesses and are less inclined to change jobs or move for new opportunities.”
But it is not only the economy that has turned soft on risk. We are becoming a risk-averse culture. While there are ominous political implications to this trend, and I do believe Casselman’s article is correct, that we have become a society committed to guarantees is disturbing to me.
The willingness to risk is what permits us to break the boundaries of manageable living. Risk-averse people literally build walls around themselves and refuse to step outside them. Life becomes comfortable as the commitment to comfort overwhelms the desire to explore and conquer.
Risk strengthens the heart, conquers new worlds, builds new alliances, forges new friendships, opens new vistas, and breaks down barriers. Risk is the dynamo of experience. Without it, we settle for the known, the manageable…and the mundane.
Truthfully, a risk-free life is quite unrealistic to expect. We simply cannot predict events that might befall and it is a fool’s venture to even think life can be controlled. It can’t. So w can either plan for the unplanned or be overwhelmed by it.
No one is advocating foolhardiness. I am, however, challenging you to venture forth. Why?
Because the person who risks nothing, does nothing…and has even less.
Over time, the expression “E” ticket has come to mean any activity or event that is especially worthwhile or exciting. Paradoxically, excitement for excitement’s sake soon becomes boring. But the sense of fulfillment that comes from engaging in something worthwhile does not.
Humans are hardwired to pursue significance! Genuine satisfaction comes from spending one’s time, talent, energy, and resources on something of value even if there are risks. No guts, no glory!
But you don’t have to.
You can spend your ticket on Main Street and live quite comfortably there. Or, you can go for it all and make your life an E-ticket ride. Which will you do?