No Risk, No Reward

 

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The question I’m asked almost daily is “why’d you do it?” To which I usually reply “do what?.” Although I know what they’re inferring — Ireland sucks and America is great; why would you leave?
See, one thing you should know about the Irish is that they are very pessimistic as a whole. Whether it’s about the weather, the economy, the government, or the country itself, they are always down on themselves. I find it almost irritating. It’s a beautiful country crammed with more history and scenery than  anywhere  I’ve ever been before. And this leads me to the very point of this post, and an answer to their question.

“Why’d you do it?”

Well, to be honest, I’ve never really done anything or gone anywhere. Sure, I’ve been to a few places back in the States, but not many. I can probably count on one hand all the different States I’ve been too. You see, I’ve never been a risk taker. And though I’ve never considered myself a nervous or scared person, I’ve just always preferred the safety of my ‘comfort zone.’  I wouldn’t even ride a roller coaster until I was 15 years old. This was quite an accomplishment considering I lived near one of the best Amusement Parks in the world – Cedar Point, and even closer to one of the best in Ohio – Geauga Lake. Annual summer trips to these places with many enthusiastic thrill seeking friends made it hard for me to keep my feet on the ground, but I managed to do so for a long time. Even today, I rarely venture outside of my ‘comfort zone’ of previously ridden coasters.

It wasn’t until much later in life that I finally discovered the root of my fear. It wasn’t a fear of heights or speed or anything like that, it was in fact, a fear of losing control. You could put my hands on the steering wheel or handlebars of most any machine and I’m intstantly transformed into Evel Knievel. But, put me in the passenger seat with the safest driver in the world, and I turn into Shaggy Rogers. ‘Like Zoinks Scoob!’

How about flying?  Not a chance. I managed to avoid flying until I was 28 years old, and even then the only reason I flew was because I got married and my new wife was dead-set on going to Cancún, and being newly married, there was no way I was going to tell her no.  So, with the help of some pharmaceuticals and plenty of whiskey I hopped on the plane and off we went. Even with a few handfuls of Xanax and several glasses of scotch I was still a nervous wreck. I tried very hard to enjoy the beautiful thing we call flight, but a voice in the back of my head just wouldn’t allow it. I admit, I was quite jealous of my wife at the time; watching her stare out the window enjoying the stunning view while I sat there contemplating a fiery end to a long, slow, terrifying plummet back to earth after some catastrophic engine failure or fuel line rupture. Obviously, those fears never materialized and I made it back alive but, “that doesn’t mean it wont happen next time,” I’d remind myself. In my mind I took a massive risk that week. I could get on that plane with my beautiful new wife and we could die on that trip. I’d never get to grow old with her, never get to meet my future children, never get to see my mother and father again or my brother and all my friends. On the other hand, I could get on that plane, go to Cancun; I could have a wonderful time with my new bride, drink margaritas on the white sandy beach and enjoy a bit of life. For the reward, I had to take the risk.

I never intended this to be a whole post on conquering fear, but I guess I can’t really tell the whole story without talking about my fear. I’m talking about dropping everything you were doing and completely rerouting your entire life. Imagine putting everything you own in a steel container and shipping it all across the ocean with no guarantees that it’ll make it; walking away from a house you’ve put your heart and soul and tons of money into; then, putting those you love most next to you on a 300,000 lbs. (120,000 kg.) flying death machine, and moving to a foreign land. Just imagine yourself leaving everyone you ever knew behind for an indefinite amount of time, not knowing for certain if you’ll ever see them again. How can I talk about these things without talking about fear?

This fear had kept me home my entire life. ‘I can’t lose control because if I do, I could die.’  It seems silly to me now looking back, but this was my rationalization and the very thing that kept me from experiencing life.

– “On a long enough timeline, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero.” – Fight Club 1999

“So, why’d you do it??”

I did it because I didn’t want to look back on my life and wonder “what if?”

At the time of the job offer I was living 10 miles from where I was born. I had to ask myself, ‘what are you going to do with this life?’ I was 32 years old and what had I done? What will be my legacy? What will I leave my children? I just felt like I would never get another chance to do something like this ever again. I knew I had to conquer my fear, or I’d look back and regret not chasing the opportunity. I did it because it was an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for my family and for myself. So, why not?  No risk, no reward, right?

 

 

– In my next post I will go into detail describing all the events that lead up to “the offer” and all the craziness that followed. Stay tuned!

 

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