A Better Story

val in real life

One of the subjects much-discussed among the outdoor community is risk. And the very incorrect perception that our pursuits are often very risky, dangerous, or even downright irresponsible.

As I’ve dealt with the hand injury has dominated my life for the last six months, I’ve had to recount the story of how I injured it countless times. It is a very mundane story and without fail, the response is “You need a better story.” Especially given what I do, there’s a little expectation that I must have been off doing something outrageous to have injured myself so badly that, by the end, I will have spent at least year recovering and dealing with the impact of it.

I’ve laughed along with the you-need-a-better-story notion, though. Because it is funny in a way. And we’d rather hear a rousing tale than one of such mind-numbing boredom, wouldn’t we? But I’ve now firmly landed on… no, I don’t need a better story.

While it might be fun to embellish it into a wild, fun yarn, it would perpetuate the misconception of risk in our daily lives. I take my role as a model for living differently and fully fairly seriously and I don’t want to further the notion that how I live is what caused this.

The truth of the matter is that daily life is filled with a tremendous amount risk. There is risk in our daily commutes, our home, our workplaces, and our lifestyles. Some of it is acute and some of it is chronic but either way, because we face it daily, we’ve learned to reconcile much of it as part of life… the acceptable risk of the mundane. Yet risk for recreation’s sake is somehow not acceptable because it lives under the umbrella of “avoidable” activities. As you can imagine, I strenuously disagree with that mindset for a variety of reasons.

What I hope is that you’ll join me in redefining acceptable risk. Life is inherently risky and entirely untidy no matter what we’re doing. Let’s free ourselves from the notion that there should never be risk or that the ultimate goal is to negate any possibility of injury or mishap. Let’s instead focus on taking reasonable precautions in our pursuits, daily or otherwise. Let’s manage risk while still living fully… and pay much more attention to the things that really catch up with us, the insidious daily risks we’ve resigned to accept that are actually quite avoidable.

For those of you who are still left wondering about how I managed to tear a major ligament in my hand, I simply closed the rear door of the car… and did a very poor job at it. And no, I don’t need a better story.

postcards from real life - val in real life
You’ve got to be willing to navigate the thorns of life to get to the juicy fruit that lies beneath.