In the last 6 months, I’ve had an AC Separation (shoulder and collarbone no longer attached), an STD, a hurt pinky toe, and a scooter accident resulting in a 2 inch squared, 3/4 inch deep gash in my knee that had to be sewn up.
I think I’m being stupid.
But where is the line? What separates adventurous from stupid? How can I parkour, skydive, drive fast, and go see the more dangerous parts of the world without a bit of stupid?
I think perhaps the answer lies in preparation. Go do awesome stuff, but prepare for it. No one skydives without learning how to use a parachute. So learn how to use a parachute while on the ground. How to drive while going slow with a teacher. How to parkour on soft surfaces. The rules of the dangerous parts of the world and how to maximize my chances of survival.
And how can I ensure this? By following a life principle I have toted for years but, I now realize, have not actually followed as closely as I should have.
The life principle of looking at the worst and best case scenario of every action I take and every goal I undertake. Answering: how bad is the worst case, on a scale of 1-10? How good is the best case on a scale of 1-10? (1-passing and not a big deal, 5-long term and real impact, 10-permanent & life changing.)
What can I do to minimize the chance of the worst case from happening? If the worst case does happen, what can I do to get back to the state at which I started?
And what can I do to maximize the chance of the best case coming to reality?
Let’s retroactively apply this to my last 3 injuries (skip to the end if you don’t care to see the principle in action):
AC Separation via Parkour
What’s the worst that can happen with Parkour? I could fuck up a move and wind up breaking something, paralyzing myself, or even dying. That’s a 5,9, & 10 out of 10 respectively.
What’s the best that can happen with Parkour? I can learn this cool new skill that keeps my body fit, entertains me, allows me to traverse obstacles that I encounter on adventures, and my help me escape someone when I need to. That’s a 4 out of 10.
So from a logical standpoint, learning Parkour is a bad bet. However, I still want to learn it.
So, what can I do to minimize the worst case from happening? I can practice on soft surfaces like grass mats, and master each technique before doing it anywhere near pavement. I can get a more experienced person to tutor me and teach me. I can take it slow and make sure that I don’t take any serious Parkour risks.
What can I do to if the worst case does happen to get back to the state that I am in? In the case of a broken bone, I can heal it fully and rest. In the case of paralysis, I can learn the best ways of living paralyzed and devote my life to philosophy & creation of awesome shit. In the case of death, there is nothing I can do.
And finally, what can I do to maximize the chance of the best case coming to reality? I can learn from a teacher, so I can master all the moves as quickly and perfectly as possible. I can go out and Parkour with friends, so they can watch me and correct my errors, and help me if I manage to hurt myself.
Minor STD through sex
What’s the worst that can happen with sex? I can get a minor STD, a permanent STD, or a fatal STD. That’s a 2, 7, and 10 respectively.
What’s the best that can happen? Enjoyable sex life, close bonds with lots of people through the experiences and sex chemicals. An 8.
Once again, sex itself is a logically shaky bet. But I’m not going to abstain from it, so what can I do?
What can I do to minimize the worst from happening? Always wear a condom, get regular check-ups.
What can I do if the worst does happen to get back to normal? With a minor STD, just ride it out, don’t fuck, and take any necessary medication till it’s gone. With a permanent STD, warn all lovers, have a LOT less sex, and do whatever I can to subdue it. With a fatal STD, just go adventuring until I die.
What can I do to maximize the chance of the best case scenario coming to reality? Once again, always wear a condom, get regular checkups, have sex mostly with people I trust and, of course, learn to be amazing at sex.
Stitches through Driving Fast
What’s the worst that can happen? I crash and break a bone, or die. 5 & 10.
What’s the best that can happen? I enjoy driving fast, I save time. 2
This one is clearly stupid. Don’t drive super fast, it’s not worth it. And learn what you’re doing before you go out.
What can I do to minimize the chance of the worst case coming to pass? I can learn to drive before hitting the road, not go ridiculously fast, and always armor up (helmet, long cloths, gloves, leather if I have it) before going out.
What can I do if the worst does happen to get back to normal? Broken bone = fix it. Death = see what comes next.
What can I do to maximize the best case scenario? Same as minimizing the worst case.
As Stepan said to me: Our tendency to leap headlong into things is both good and bad. It ensures an interesting life full of adventure. But it also ensures that we fuck up more often, and sometimes we fuck up badly.
I haven’t fucked up badly yet, but if I keep living like I am it won’t be long.
I will not abandon the trait of leaping headlong into things. I’d rather die living life to the fullest than live life through to old age with a lifestyle of caution. But I’d really rather live to old age, and perhaps immortality, while adventuring my whole life.
So the lesson is simple. It’s one I already knew.
Weigh the best and worst case of every action. Know what you can do to mitigate and repair the worst, and ensure the best.
If it’s still a worthy goal, do it.
If not, good thing you learned that before fucking up.
And, if you forget to do this, fuck up, and get really lucky (like getting into a scooter crash and literally walking away with a few stitches and a lighter wallet), learn from your mistakes.