The 40th anniversary of the first moon landing was yesterday. I was twenty when it happened and it still seems unbelievable to me that anyone has done that. I like the idea that something can be permanently amazing. And that anyone has the nerve to visit another celestial body. Or to put up with a loved one making the trip.
I doubt if I'm going to the moon. Not my brand of gumption. Not what I'd risk everything for.
It's not that we have a finite quantity of courage and if we use it up it's gone. Quite the reverse. Bravery, even in small daily things, engenders more of the same.
But risk is another matter altogether. Lots of things that require some nerve--making a difficult phone call, perhaps--don't have any real risk. I once knew a fellow travel writer who waited as late as possible to head out to the airport for a flight; so there was always a mad rush on the road. She did it on purpose, saying she was "a risk-taker." I thought that was pretty stupid.
She was risking missing the flight. The gain was a few more minutes at home. Not a good trade-off.
When faced with something that scares me, the real risk involved is one thing I think about. That, and the potential gain.