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Risk and Spice
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I was just reading an article in which the authors cite a study showing a very high correlation between people liking spicy food and those same people being risk takers.

These spicy people are the ones who ride the roller coaster, go bungee jumping, enjoy hang gliding--the authors' definition of risk taking.

I would disagree with that definition. Rather, I would broaden the definition to include other kinds of risk, and I use my own experience as an example.

Yes, I love spicy foods.

No, I wouldn't dream of hang gliding or risking my entire life savings at the baccarat table. Those are risks I would not be willing to take.

But according to my friends, I have lived a life that was risky in other ways. I left home alone at 16 with a few dollars in my pocket and traveled 3,000 miles to go to school, at that time the most expensive university in the country.

I lived in Italy and on the continent and then in London for a year or two, hand to mouth, sleeping on park benches and under bushes, getting a day's work where I could for food. Sleeping in an old English graveyard is not for sissies.

During Freedom Summer, I marched for Civil Rights and endured dogs and water cannons. I registered people to vote in Mississippi.

After grad school, I joined the Peace Corps and ended up in a village in India accessible only by wading a river and then walking along the berms between rice paddies.

I outran a forest fire by driving through it. Fast. In fact, that's happened to me twice. When trapped, frozen in fear was not the appropriate response.

I taught school in what is euphemistically called the "inner city" and lived alone in an old house in one of the poorest parts of town. With a big dog for company.

Those were times when I took the risk of being wrong, of failure, with nary a second thought. My mother nearly had a conniption when I told her of my lifestyle; after that, I kept it to myself. No sense in upsetting the poor dear.

And I have taken the risk of exploring new ideas. I love the challenge of another point of view, another place to explore, another puzzle to solve. That is meat and drink to me, preferably highly spiced.

But risk my retirement nest egg or my life? Never. Really, I'm a very cautious person.

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