Thursday, November 11, 2004

Birthday Note

At my age, 58 today, birthdays are not fun, but challenging. I’m at that stage in life where time seems to fly and I can’t quite keep pace as I use to. The noting of another year of life that has passed is, like New Year’s, a time to reflect. It’s also a time for resolve. If God gives me my three score and ten, I have 12 years left. Grace may give me more; the frailty of body and unpredictability of life may see me fall short.

Today I am reminded that each day should be lived the same. Courage, discipline, a sense of humor, gratefulness. In looking over my collection of quotes, I found this one and found inspiring for the first day of my 59th year. Walter Anderson in his book, The Greatest Risk of All, interviews Andrew Vachss.

“If you were asked to advise someone on how to take a risk,", I asked, "what would you suggest?"

"I'm sure I'd ask him whether he knew what his net was."

"His net?"

"Yes, there's a big difference between being on a tightrope with a net and without a net. The trick is to reach into yourself to discover what your net is. Take you for example. You take a lot of risks as an editor. Let's say one of them causes you to lose your job. You'd still be yourself, still have your family, your talent, your experience—your NET. Also, you would know what you have at risk. No one should take a risk unless they truly understand what's at stake. Blindly leaping out of a window is not risk-taking. It's suicide, period. The question is, what are you willing to lose? When kids ask me about fighting, I give them simple rules: If you can take the worst possible result, then fight. If not, run."

As a Christian, my “net” of course, is my faith in the Master. Everything I am or hope to be rests in my relationship with Him. I say that with a bit of hesitancy, as I am not presupposed to determinism, reductionism or flippancy. To not recognize Him as my “net” would be dishonoring, arrogant and foolish.

Not knowing the time when we will be “no more”, as the Indians like to say, is not the issue. The crucial question is what I am willing to risk as I finish out my course? As I chart my steps forward I pray for wisdom, knowing that no matter what the future holds I have THE net who is always there to break the fall.