if you don’t risk anything, you risk even more

Last week my astrological guru Moonology.com offered up words for Sagittarians to the effect not taking a risk is scarier than taking a risk… Risk hadn’t been on my mind. Chance had. I was considering as I do writing a short story for the Australian Country Style Magazine’s 2013 competition, “referencing directly or obliquely, the idea of ‘chance’”.

I commented on Dianne Gray’s post ideas on ideas how for the first time writing inspiration came to me via a dream. Let me it put it another way. For the first time I considered something I dreamt as writing inspiration. Previously I wrote a short story about not a dream, recounting the events where I was asleep and my then husband morphed into a werewolf beside me in bed. It wasn’t a dream. It did happen. That it occurred annually three times, and the two subsequent times my other sleeping companion, Baddy Cat, stood guard… gives the it was real argument weight.

This dream which was a dream worked hard to convince me what it had to tell was inspiring rather than annoying. Three times I extricated myself from its grip. Three times it dragged me back. Over Sunday morning coffee, I told the G.O. “I had the worst dream last night. It felt awfuI. It wouldn’t let me go”. As I recounted the dream, I felt my gut wrenching over again. I asked “Why would I dream something like that? God forbid it ever happens. What chance would we have?”… as realisation dawned.

Within 24 hours I had the story written. Working title Between a Rock and a Hard Place is incubating on a memory stick. In a few weeks I’ll look at it to review grammar, punctuation and ending. Although I knew straight up the story I would write for the 2012 ACS competition, it took weeks to come together. Thanks to the dream and maybe the benefit of a year of writing blog posts, 2013 story was no challenge at all. Short story due at the end of April done and dusted in February. Might have to write another.

The horoscope rattled the bones of risk. Despite the many conversations the G.O. & I have about our dreams and plans, risk is a word unspoken, irrelevant. Our latest conversation was along of the lines of it will be time to get out of our comfort zone, and back ourselves. To read the word risk even loosely in the context of possibilities of my life was intriguing.

Curious about the juxtaposition of chance and risk I consulted an online dictionary.
Risk: exposure to the chance of injury or loss; a hazard or dangerous chance.
1. the absence of any cause of events that can be predicted, understood, or controlled: often personified or treated as a positive agency: Chance governs all.
2. luck or fortune: a game of chance.
3. a possibility or probability of anything happening: a fifty-percent chance of success.
4. an opportune or favourable time; opportunity: Now is your chance.

Those words… “Chance governs all”… Risk is exposure to chance. Do I risk taking a chance? Do I chance not taking a risk? How much say do I have in chance or risk? If chance governs all, chance governs me. It appears risk is the silent partner of chance.

The title of this post is a quote I recollected from… somewhere. Google searching, I found it derives from “Do you want me to tell you something really subversive? Love is everything it’s cracked up to be. That’s why people are so cynical about it. It really is worth fighting for, being brave for, risking everything for. And the trouble is, if you don’t risk anything, you risk even more.” Erica Jong, Fear of Flying.

Fear of Flying according to Goodreads was “Originally published in 1973, the ground-breaking, uninhibited story of Isadora Wing and her desire to fly free caused a national sensation”. I didn’t read it in 1973 – I was 7 going on 8 years old. I read Fear of Flying a decade or so later in my 20’s. It apparently had negligible effect as while I recognised by author & title I had read it, I couldn’t recall the content. The Wiki article “In this humorous novel, Erica Mann Jong coined the term “zipless fuck” ” gave me slight context. Yesterday’s sensation, today’s ho hum?

risk_street art_king street, newtown, nsw, AustraliaI’m not a gambler. No casino or poker machine for me. I’m an unenthusiastic card player. Rather in hindsight, by knowing my form, the state of play, backing myself or being blindly optimistic, it appears life’s game of chance has been my arena. I’ve won and lost, and there are several hands I wish I could play again, experience stacking the odds in my favour. But, I’ve always felt lucky.
Is yesterday’s risk today’s ho hum?

19 thoughts on “if you don’t risk anything, you risk even more

  1. I should have guessed you were a fellow Sagittarian 😉

    Best of luck with the competition. I love the line “risk is the silent partner of chance” – so true.

    Thank you so much for the pingback 😀


    1. From memory you’re the 26th, same as my sister, and I’m the 29th 🙂 We’re in good company.

      Thank you. I never find the fiction short story format easy but I’m perserving and I’m applying my writing motto “If you write one story it may be bad; if you write a hundred, you have the odds in your favour.” Edgar Rice Burroughs 🙂


    1. Thank you. It’s interesting to consider not taking risks as a risk…
      You’ll get to read the story one way or another – if I win I’ll be shouting it from the roof tops. If I don’t win, I’ll be quietly uploading it as a blog post 🙂


  2. A wonderful piece, EllaDee, with a most thought-provoking title. We’re taught that Life is full of risk but no one ever mentions the consequences of avoiding risk. And when it comes to matters of the heart, as Jong pointed out, avoidance of risk could be the worst we do.
    Best of luck with your entry in the competition. I’d say it’s more than worth the risk.


  3. Good luck with your entry 🙂
    “not taking a risk is scarier than taking a risk…” if only I had known that when I was younger, there are things I really wish I had taken the risk with back then. “It really is worth fighting for, being brave for, risking everything for. And the trouble is, if you don’t risk anything, you risk even more.” So true.

    Looking forward to your shouting from the rooftops! 🙂


  4. We (Husband and I) often justify whatever it is we happen to want to do, even though it might be a bit risky in one way or another by saying, “but can we afford not too do it?” I also find though that as I get older aspects around risk and chance change somewhat. Possibly that experience thing you talk about kicking in. Good luck with your story. One way or another it will be enjoyed by an appreciative audience.


    1. I really like your philosophy “but can we afford not too do it”… a far better way of looking at life.
      Thank you. The ACS competition is one way of encouraging myself to write short fiction stories on topic with word count… I love to write whatever comes into my head, usually from life, with not a lot of structure which is why I tend to blogging 🙂


  5. I’m not a big gambler in the casino either. Too much studying of probability and a face that betrays my thoughts. 🙂 But taking risks is important–I just prefer them to be calculated risks. 😉


    1. Ah, we have the same type of face 🙂 I prefer calculated risk as well… if it ends up being a mistake you can think ‘I did what I thought was right’ rather than ‘that was stupid, I didn’t even think about it’. And if it succeeds… ‘how clever am I’ and of course ‘how lucky am I’. But to not take risks is unthinkable. Life is too short to play too safe 🙂


  6. Is yesterday’s risk today’s ho-hum? Perhaps. But perhaps not. Erica Jong talking about “the zipless fuck” was one part of a whole lot of books and essays and articles and speeches given by women trying to became equal with (NOT the same as!) men. It may seem ho-hum now because it is now so much more accepted that women are indeed equal with men, but back in 1976 my husband and I had recently bought a house together only after we signed a legal document that because of either sterility or birth control I couldn’t get pregnant. THAT was the real-life nightmare.


    1. Exactly… it was controversial, and important decades ago but as times and generation pass what was great risk has become commonplace. Even in the late 80’s I was asked straight up during job interviews if I was planning to marry or become pregnant, and a co-worker was ‘counselled’ because her bra strap had become exposed… This is why EJ was relevant, and I read every one of her books… It’s interesting, I had forgotten these things.


    1. Yes, it does make sense… When you mentioned about mentally rearranging other people’s house walls, I laughed out loud!
      The Sagi bow and arrow isn’t a fashion accessory, it’s a tool to shoot for the stars!
      PS. I finished The Lacuna & loved it – will be acquiring my own copy. I quickly moved on to In the Moon of Red Ponies, and am in love with James Lee Burke’s writing 🙂


  7. sorry I’ve missed some of your posts, well I didn’t Reader did 😀
    like KH above, I’m more into taking calculated risks, but not rash ones
    I also tend to balance it with – regret ie will I regret not doing something more than I will doing it, having the experience and learning from it
    30 years ago when I was planning my world trip and chucking my job, one of my colleagues said wasn’t I worried about it, and how would I get a job when I got back, and and and ….. It was still one of the best things I ever did. Back in the pre-mobile ‘phone, no internet days you were on your own, apart from placing a call back home from time to time. Risk? Calculated. Regrets? None for doing it, a mountain if I hadn’t done.
    I wanted to read FoF. I never did, so I must look her up on my next library visit (went yesterday so ’twill be a couple of weeks now).


    1. You’ve brought up a great point… other peoples take on risk. Some can second guess with ‘what ifs’ until the cows come home, and others will respond ‘go for it’. The second is usually me.
      That was my exact thought as I was reading through your comment, ‘no, imagine if you hadn’t done it’ 🙂
      I read my way through most of EJ’s books in the late 80’s/90’s and as far as I know, they have no lingering memory but maybe as they were so significant I’ve just absorbed the content into my outlook. It would be interesting to read them now and see how relevant they are and how I feel.


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