Sometimes it’s hard to tell the stupid from the brave.
Sometimes it’s little things. Spending $12 to enter a writing contest. Did I just waste $12? Do I have a chance of beating 230 other people to win the prize? 220 people to make it into the money? How can I stand it until the first cut is announced? Is the piece I submitted even close to what they were looking for?
But I did it. I paid my $12 and entered the contest. Stupid (possibly) and brave.
I was told I needed to have a medical treatment that terrified me. Did I really want someone to try something so drastic on me? What if all I got were side effects? What if I got no effects? What if I didn’t get myself back the way I used to be? Should I believe all the negatives I’d heard about it? Should I believe the positives?
I agreed to have it. Stupid (possibly) and brave.
Once upon a time I told someone that I loved him.
I knew the rules. In a casual relationship, never be the first to say it. But how long can you go feeling it but not saying it? What if he runs? What if you thought it might be welcome but afterward you feel like dirt? Couldn’t he have figured it out by this time? Was he not wanting to say it either? Or just not feeling it?
So I said it. Stupid (possibly) and brave.
No risk, no reward, they say. But there you are, hanging out on that cliff, looking over the edge, making the decision. Knowing that it’s brave but (possibly) stupid. That the reward may not be worth the risk, or that there may be no reward at all.
Except. Except taking that step off may mean that you fly. You could win. You could be cured. He could love you. If that’s the case, then not taking the step would be the stupid thing to do.
But you might fall. You might waste $12. You might be no better off, or even worse. He might laugh. Then you were brave but stupid.
How do you weigh bravery versus stupidity? Wasting $12 isn’t much of a gamble. Considering a risky medical procedure is. So is admitting your feelings. Does taking the small risks, being a little bit brave, prepare you for taking the big ones later? I’m not sure. Each risk must be weighed anew. You could still fall, every time.
But taking the leap and not failing puts you a little closer to doing it the next time. I would pay to enter another contest. I would consider another scary health option. I would talk of love.
None of those decisions has turned out exactly as I hoped – or as I feared. One was disappointing; one proved unnecessary; one was satisfying.
Have I been brave or stupid? The next time I have a choice, which will it be?
Statistically, some of my decisions are going to prove to be stupid. Historically, many of them have been. The next one may prove stupid too.
But, as one of my favorite authors said, “If you don’t bet, you can’t win.” That argues for bravery.
We all teeter on that cliff at one time or another. Fall, or be pushed, or leap. Or stay where you are. Which is brave? Which stupid?