The essence of life is not to avoid risk, but rather to maximize opportunity. And, where do the richest opportunities lie? Exactly where risks are greatest! Who vainly peruse the illusion of "safety," squander their lives.
John Farnam, 9-6-2008
Jeff Cooper said that variety is not the spice of life,
but rather danger is the spice of life.
I suggest that a life lived without risk simply isn't worth living.
Astronauts, test pilots, mountain climbers, explorers, and in short most of the people we admire are those who take great risks. Every time we get in our cars and drive to the store, we are risking death and serious bodily injury. Young men who play high school football are risking painful injuries that they will carry with them through an entire lifetime.
Risk is unavoidable and can only be minimized, never entirely eliminated. Once you accept that statement, you then have to choose how much risk you want to eliminate. If you choose not to travel, go skiing, or explore mines you will eliminate certain definite sources of risk. You will also miss out on certain really rewarding experiences.
I argue that a person who knowingly takes certain risks with proper preparations (a rock climber let's say) is much safer than a person who unknowingly takes risks (such as the person talking on a cell-phone while merging into freeway traffic). Often enough, these same clueless risk takers will criticize the rock-climber as reckless. The climber is safer in the risks he takes because of the awareness of them and the time spent thinking about them.
No sane person wakes up in the morning and says, "What a wonderful day, I think I'll go get myself killed in an old mine today." Nor does any sane person wake up thinking, "Today would be a great day to get killed in a car accident." But both can and do happen, and wise is the man that does all he can to avoid such a thing.
Clearly old mines are dangerous. Nobody should enter them without proper preparations (lights, backup lights, helmets, competent companions, sturdy clothing, decent boots, and above all else a serious and constantly vigilant attitude). Most people should avoid them altogether, just as they should avoid scuba diving, mountaineering, and other activities involving skill, fitness, knowledge, and a certain level of audacity.
Tom's Old Mine Info / firstname.lastname@example.org