Safety First

February 8, 2012

One of the early lessons my mother (futilely) tried to instill in me was the untoward concept of ‘safety first’. This lesson was applied to: crossing streets, talking to strangers, skating, biking, etc. The things she thought I’d be doing.

It also applied more vaguely to my more exciting ‘underground’ pursuits such as: hanging by knees trapeze-fashion from my swing and slide set’s pullup bar, balancing on the huge water mains in the abandoned lot down the street which were about 15 feet above rivers of water that flowed underneath them (which spiced the entire perilous endeavor), riding a shopping cart down a hill on a dare to make it all the way to the bottom and across the then-busy street, etc. (Luckily Mom never knew about the latter adventures, or her philosophy of ‘safety first’ might have evolved to ‘lock her up until adulthood’.)

As an adult I nowdays too often find the notion of ‘safety first’ translating to the simply-unacceptable idea of ‘NOT doing such exciting things at my age’. (And why not, I challenge?)

I have had it applied to:

. Motorcycle riding. Yes, I know how many folks get killed on motorcycles. Yes, I am fully aware of the risks. And no – I’m not willing to forego the freedom and fun of ‘sailing on land’ to defer to the fear of possibilities. (I AM willing to assure my driver is not: deranged, drunk, or overly daring in her style: THAT is my concession to Safety First).

. Swinging. Even after my swing chains broke twice (the 2nd time prompting a shoulder injury that took a year of recovery time) I still LOVE the freedom and exhilaration of swinging outside. The chain issue was identified and fixed (…my concession to ‘Safety First’), and I fully intend on swinging until I am 95 at least (…Bill….)

. Cycling. Oh sure, ‘at my age’ I could break a leg by falling off it. But I also figger ‘at my age’ I can break a leg just getting outta bed. Do I therefore stay in bed, opting for the certainty of future mobility by remaining immobile now? Where’s the logic in THAT? Use it or lose it, I say.

. Camping. Admittedly the romance of sleeping on the ground has faded over the last 40 years. That’s why blow-up mattresses were invented.

. Travel. Yeah, there’s ‘no place like home’. Where everything is predictable and familiar. BUT, I have NOT lost my taste for wanting to journey ‘out of the box.’ Conversely – there is no box like home. The Amazonians have a saying of endearment and encouragement for this instinct: “Go and come back”. My mantra for the years to come.

.Kayaking. Admittedly falling out of one’s boat is a possibility. That’s why humans (or, perhaps dogs first) invented swimming. In my case, a really strong dog paddle combined with some reluctant real swimming skills serves me well. And let it be known: I haven’t fallen out of a kayak yet, in the years I’ve been embarking on this ‘dangerous endeavor’ (…Mom and Peanut Gallery….)

                                  

. Whitewater rafting. Sure, you can ‘fly out of the raft and be killed on rocks’ (…warns Bill). Conversely you can fly out of your auto en route to the corner market and achieve the same result (sans rocks). Give me the thrill of whitewater any day. Less people on the river – and rocks are friendlier. Plus they Velcro your butt to the raft.

In considering all my adventures these last few years, I realize I have been intentionally flaunting Mom’s early basic training of ‘Safety First’. And I remain here on the planet to wantonly brag about it, too.

Were it up to Mom (and Bill), I’d be practicing the Laws of Safety First by: staying home, watching TV, puttering around the garden, and gaining my daily exercise by walking down my driveway for the newspaper and back. I might be safe, all right.

So I am eaten by a dragon when camping in Mendocino, or sucked down by a sea serpent whilst whitewater rafting, or our motorcycle takes a wrong turn and never comes back… consider the alternative of: breaking a leg getting outta bed, slipping in the shower, or having the stove blow up during an errant culinary experiment. ALL strong possibilities, to my mind. (If you’re obsessed about safety, just BREATHING could be considered a hazard.)

Chalk my adventurous spirit up to ‘safety first’: because I’m safer living out of my box and in an involved world than under the bed (where we all know The Killer Dust Bunny Gang lives.)

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