Noun – A possibility of something happening.
Adjective – Fortuitous; accidental.
Verb – Do something by accident or without design: “if they chanced to meet”.
noun. occasion – opportunity – hazard – luck – fortune
adjective. fortuitous – accidental – random – haphazard – casual
verb. risk – happen – hazard – venture – occur – gamble – hap
What are the chances you’d be willing to take a chance?
I take chances. This is supposed to be against my nature, I am an auditor, by profession. We are supposed to be risk adverse. Well, I don’t actually audit anymore, I teach software, and auditing, to auditors. I got this job by chance. My family was on the brink of financial ruin when a recruiter called with this job. I wasn’t even looking for a job. It was all by chance. My kids were in high school, my husband was pretending, poorly, to be a day trader, and we were having a hard time making the mortgages. The job required up to 75% travel and public speaking, two things I was dead set against. But, a paid 90-day trial period for the sake of the family was a chance I was willing to take. That was five years ago. The kids are in college, the husband is no longer in the picture, gone, with the mortgages that could not be met. But I took a chance on the job and it taught me something about myself at a very critical point in my life. I. Can. Do. Anything. Five years later, I happily travel all over the country and speak to groups of professionals for hours on end, for days on end. With confidence, with passion. By chance.
I take some chances when I travel for work, too. I go out and explore the towns and cities I visit. I walk, sometimes. I walk, sometimes, after dark. I get a feeling for the area and decide what I want to see and how I’m going to get there. But, taking these somewhat calculated chances has provided me with so many experiences that have enriched my life and have taught me a lot about people and about my country. I learn about every city and town I visit, I take in the local sites, history, architecture, cuisine, culture, and amenities, like parks and galleries and museums. Worth the chance.
I take other chances, too. I drive fast, we’ve discussed this. I make risky lane changes when aggravated, too. I will admit, I am sometimes that idiot on the road that I would curse at. I am really a careful, safe and sane driver, when someone is in the car with me, but when I drive by myself, I like a little risk, I like a little adrenaline. I like speeding and not getting caught. I like being able to maneuver through “idiot blocks” on the highway. I like taking those chances.
I have always liked sports and activities that many consider somewhat risky, chancy. I like to backpack, I like to horseback ride, I like whitewater rafting, I like rock climbing, I like snowboarding, and at my age, too. I run. I hike. I want to do even more! I want to white water kayak, I want to parasail, I want to sky dive (okay, maybe just once, to say I’ve done it), I want to surf, I want to do things I haven’t even thought of yet. Why? I like to take chances. I like a little adrenaline. I want to live while I’m alive. I’m addicted to experiences. I’m addicted to chance.
Life is full of chance. Even in the ordinary, there is chance. There is chance in what we choose to study, in the profession we select. There is chance in who we select as a mate, there is chance in the investments we make, the real estate we buy, the trip we make to the grocery store for cottage cheese and milk, in changing the light bulb in the bathroom. There is chance in crossing the street, in crossing every intersection, in climbing the stairs, in taking an elevator, even in swallowing your food. To think you don’t take chances every day you get out of bed is folly.
After the collapse of a twenty-something year marriage, though it was far from what a loving, fulfilling, marriage should ever be, I swore, swore, swore, I was better off alone. I told myself I might, eventually, date. But I swore, swore, swore I’d never allow anyone close enough to me to fall in love. By chance, I am in love.
Nearly three years ago, I was in a town far, far from home. I’d been training and consulting with a group of accountants at a firm for a few days. My last day was busy, hectic and exhausting. I decided to reward myself by venturing a little ways out of town to a brewery that was said to have both good food and good beer. If the crowded parking lot was any evidence, on a Wednesday night, it must be true. I decided to take a chance. There were no tables available for a single diner so I agreed to eat at the bar. I enjoyed my meal and a stout beer, followed by a bowl of locally made beer-flavored ice cream, and another beer. About half way through my ice cream and second stout, a man took the stool next to me. He said to me “you’re not from around here, are you?” Right? I took a chance and struck up conversation with him. He seemed nice enough, but what really struck me was the fact that everyone at the bar knew him and seemed to hold him in high regard. During our conversation he asked if I’d ever ridden an airboat before. No. I wasn’t even sure what an airboat was, I was pretty darned sure I’d never ridden one before. He invited me to go for an airboat ride the next day, then to lunch, before I headed to the airport to catch my flight home. Am I crazy? Yup. Based on my risk assessment (auditors do this) and my observations of how people (in a bar) regarded this (strange, not as in unusual, but as in unknown) man, I agreed. We exchanged numbers and I headed back to my hotel (alone). I knew full well I’d chicken out when it came down to it. No chance.
That night and the next morning I was having a war with myself. There was the side of me that said “are you crazy?” and the other side that said “YOLO!! Let’s go!” He called. I stalled. He called. I stalled. I went sightseeing. He called again. I relented. I met him and found out what an airboat is; a small aluminum craft, flat hull, with a chair (one) secured in front of a cage housing an airplane propeller that spins frighteningly fast and is very loud and propels the boat across the top of the water, or gravel, or other land mass, if necessary. Like a swamp boat, well, just like a swamp boat. I got to sit on a lawn chair that was NOT anchored in any way to the bottom of the boat. Am I crazy? Apparently so. We launched the boat, I climbed aboard. And, by the way, thank goodness for my shoe purchase splurge. I’d found a shoe store, during this trip, by chance, in this most unlikely town, having a BOGO sale. I bought a pair of flats for work and got a free pair of vans, so I actually had appropriate footwear for this impromptu adventure, which in itself was a huge sign that I should take this chance. We flew up (or down) the river that ran through town, we stopped for lunch at a waterside restaurant, then continued our journey in the other direction (down or up the river). We found an island and pulled the boat ashore, sat on a log and each had a beer and chatted innocently. We headed back, pulled the boat out of the water and returned to my rental car. I went to the airport, got on the plane and returned to my life.
I’d talked to folks while dining alone before, but I’d never exchanged phone numbers. I’d never even entertained that as a possibility. I’d certainly never agreed to meet anyone I’d chatted casually with while dining alone. The chance had never presented itself, honestly. All of this seemed to be as a result of a bizarre chain reaction of chance occurrences. A crazy, crazy, crazy chance, and one, if a friend or family member told me about, I wouldn’t recommend. But I took it. Out of this crazy chance, I made a friend. We chatted now and then on the phone, exchanged text messages. We’d exchange stories, I’d talk about work and my travels in exchange for his weather, hunting, fishing and gardening report. We lost track of each other for a while, I thought he’d lost interest in our friendship, he’d lost his little black phonebook, instead. On a chance, one day, because I was thinking of him while visiting a town he said his sister lived in, I dug up his number and called. Because he’d lost my number he’d given up that we’d ever talk again. What were the chances? Our conversations became more regular. Our friendship grew.
He was making plans to visit his sister and his mom in Southern California and thought he’d make a stop in Northern California to visit me on his way, take a chance on seeing me after a year and a half of sporadic phone friendship. That was a year ago today. A year ago today, nervous as hell, I met a man at the airport I’d only ever seen once, well twice, counting the bar. I took a chance on a man who was my friend becoming, perhaps, something more. I considered the chance of letting someone get a little bit closer to me. I was still completely cynical about the possibility of love, but out of this chance friendship came a chance love. A chance to love, a chance to be loved.
Like all the other chances I take; backpacking, horseback riding, whitewater rafting, rock climbing, where the outcome has some risk, some uncertainty, that, no matter how much I’ve trained, planned or prepared, there are significant chances that something could go wrong and I could get hurt, love could go wrong and I could get hurt. I face this every day. And so does he. He is not without his own battle scars. We are both taking a chance. But I’m not willing to chance not taking this chance.
Sometimes we openly struggle with the chance we’re taking, sometimes we struggle in silence, but, when all is said and done, we agree to keep taking this crazy chance on each other. Ours, perhaps, being a little chancier than most, with 3,000 miles between us and the constraints of affordability of travel, the demands of work and family and other obligations. I’d rather take the chance than lose what I’ve found. And what I’ve found, I found only by taking a chance.
The chances I’ve taken, on my job, on my relationship, in the sports and activities and adventures I pursue, have allowed me to grow incredibly as a person. My confidence has blossomed, my lust for life has exploded, my ability to embrace change has developed, my clarity of purpose, my desire to evolve, to improve as a person, physically, emotionally, spiritually, professionally and to share my observations with others have all grown significantly. Most importantly, my ability to love, and be loved, has become a reality when I thought it was lost. And, at first, only because of chance. Now I pursue change and growth out of desire. I am driven to grow, to evolve, to change. I am driven to take more chances.
What are the chances?