Girl on Fire: Life is short

[As seen in Creston News Advertiser, April 2, 2015]

As I get older, I keep learning new life lessons. Recently, the lesson that has been playing over and over in front of me is that life is short, and we must take chances.

My heart goes out to fellow firefighter Kevin Webb, his son Tanner and their family during such a harsh and sad time.

Even in the past few days, I’ve looked at my life and realized how many chances I’ve taken. That number is not that large. Included in that number are moving to Iowa City for college, and accepting a reporting job with the Creston News Advertiser.

I decided to do an Internet search of “taking risks,” just to see what popped up, and I found a story published on the website of Forbes, the business magazine. The author discussed reasons why we don’t take risks, and the reasons were that we overestimate the probability of something going wrong, exaggerate the consequences of what might happen if it does go wrong, underestimate our ability to handle those consequences and discount or deny the cost of inaction.

I know I’m guilty of all four of those reasons, especially the last. What could it hurt to ask someone on a date? Or say yes to an invite to a friend’s house where you will meet new people? Just like that last reason said, we discount the cost of inaction. We think, by saying no, we save ourselves from awkward situations. But, by saying yes, we offer ourselves more chances to be happy.

I want to make new friends, fall in love again, learn something new and spend time with those I care about. These may not seem like chances or risks, but to me they are. It takes courage for someone just to say hi to another person. Sometimes it takes even more courage to walk out the door in the morning for work. It’s easy for us to become introverts, but by keeping ourselves out there in the wide open, we allow ourselves to take risks with people we know and get to know them as well, become more comfortable with them and allow them to get to know us.

The other night I watched an episode of the HBO show “Game of Thrones.” Toward the end of the episode, two characters who have fallen in love were discussing their relationship. The woman said, “If we die, we die. But first, we live.”

I love that quote. Everyone dies in the end. But, until that moment, we must live our lives as we want to live them: with every moment of happiness as we can possibly achieve.

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