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Grand Rapids, MI

​Hi.  I'm Mike Dokter.  I've ridden the coat tails of others.  I hang out with people who are much more talented and much smarter than I am.  I consistently work to learn as much as I can from these people so I can help others along their journey as well.  

What I think...

The Risk of Living...

Mike Dokter

You ever get scared of life?  I was talking with someone earlier this week who is quickly becoming one of my best friends.  We were having a discussion on risk, and making decisions in life in light of that.  I’m kinda messed up in the brain and love the excitement of the unknown.  This individual…not so much.  There’s nothing wrong with that at all but I have some thoughts on the entire idea of risk and the consequences of both taking and not taking them.

First, I think it’s important to understand that there is an inherent level of risk in every decision we make.  It’s impossible to avoid it.  So if we can establish that as a base, how do we judge the decisions we make through the perspective of minimizing risks and, possibly, insane amounts of pain and tears?  Well, one way is to make a pro’s and con’s list and analyze everything to death…blah, blah, blah…  Ok, so that’s not really fair, there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just not my style.  The other way is to not care at all and be completely reckless without considering consequences whatsoever.  This is just downright stupid.  Obviously the ideal process is probably somewhere in between.  But lets get away from the tactical process once and look bigger picture.

The reality is, we only have a certain amount of control over our life.  To a certain extent, I think that when we as individuals obsess and try to control every aspect of everything, we are basically flipping our Creator the bird.  It’s almost ignorant to assume that we can control every aspect of our life.  So that being said, what can we control?  Two things: Our thoughts and our actions.  That’s it.  We can’t control what other people do to us or in general.  We can control how we think about it, not how we feel necessarily, but how we think and then chose how we will respond.  One of two things - love or fear motivates our response. 

So if we’ve established that there is risk in everything we do, and we establish that there is only a certain amount we can control in life, and that this certain amount is limited to specifically how we chose to behave, how does that help us make decisions?  Well, if we are confident in the source of our belief system and worldview, depending on what that is, it can certainly decrease the stress.  I think we can begin to eliminate the worry in our life when we realize that the only thing we can control is how we think and behave individually.  How great is that!?!  We don’t have to worry about all the stupid decisions everyone around us is engaging in!  Now, this is not to say that we aren’t supposed to be concerned with these people or that we are supposed to allow them to self-destruct.  What it does mean though is that other people are going to do what they are going to do no matter what.  And that, right there, is the risk variable.

Look, I really don’t know how to suggest one evaluates risk.  I just spent 500 words making the point that we can’t control what other people do so for me to assume that anyone will change or listen to what I’m saying is quite honestly, idiotic.  This is what I do know.  Life is essentially a series of moments and accumulated experiences.  Some of these moments are awesome and make us feel like we are flying or on top of the world.  First kisses, puppies, kittens, landing a big deal, completing a major project, etc.  Other moments suck.  The loss of a loved one, divorce, unemployment, kids going off to college, etc.  These moments are the ones we live to forget.  The ones we worry so much about and try to minimize.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  No one likes getting hurt.  I’d like to suggest that we try to take a different look at it though.

This last year has been a physical, mental, and emotional roller coaster for me.  I had some of the greatest experiences of my life and some of the worst all within 12 months of each other.  A new chapter started for me and quite honestly, I’m so glad the last chapter is over.  I’ve experienced what seems like endless setbacks in my life and career and tragedies in my family.  These things make me who I am though.  They give me a different perspective on life, love, and family.  Despite the mental and emotional pain, the lack of sleep, and the tears - I wouldn’t’ change them for the world. 

I guess my overall point is this.  We are all going to have shitty days.  Sometimes life is just hard and it sucks.  There’s no other way to say it.  We can’t control certain parts of it and we shouldn’t try.  But there’s something more to avoiding experiences because of the risk involved, and that is the opportunity cost of missing out on learning so many things through our failure.  I’m really good at failing; in fact, it’s possibly one of the things I do best.  What I don’t do though, is roll over and die.  I refuse to let negative experiences in my life prevent me from engaging in the awesome ones.   The problem is, it’s almost virtually impossible to tell which is going to be which.  Maybe I’m wrong but I think that if we avoid experiences in our life based purely on the fear fueled by the risk involved, we simply miss out on life.

What do you think?