Taking no chances…for my family

Yesterday, I was reading a story about Andrew Lee, an ‘aspiring chef’ from England who bet his girlfriend’s brother that he could make a really hot sauce.  This inevitably devolved into a contest between the two to see who could eat the most of it and, of course, Lee proved that he was able to make a damn hot sauce.  Unfortunately, he lost the eating contest after it killed him. 

I am a guy, and I think I have a competitive nature.  I, however, do not understand why guys find the need to show that they are bigger, tougher, crazier and dumber than the next guy.  There is just no need for it.  I like hot sauce, and I like it hotter than most, but once the capsaicin is so potent that the food has no other flavor, I no longer see the point.  You might as well drink some battery acid and speed up the ulcer creating process, because ultimately that is all you are going to get out of it.

Obviously no one intends to die from eating hot sauce that is too hot or drinking too much water at a water drinking contest (check out water intoxication), but it seems every day we are presented with another act of needless bravado that results in someone’s death.  Perhaps when we are feeling all amped-up about something, it would be best to tap the breaks a little.

I will assume that in this particular case, the guy did not have a family, other than a girlfriend (though there is no guarantee of this by any means), which mitigates the tragedy a little.  However, in many of these cases people leave the world with a sad and confused family.

As a father (and even before I became one), I have developed some strong opinions regarding responsibility.  I really don’t care what people do with their lives before they get married as long as what they are doing is not hurting someone else or causing them to be a burden to society (see inexperienced climbers who decide to tackle Denali and have to be rescued: stupid), but I believe once you are married, and especially once you have children, you accept new responsibilities that should lead you to more responsible actions.  I believe that when we accept these responsibilities and limit our own selfish desires for challenges and expressions of bravado we effectively show love to our families.  Unfortunately many men even after they are married and have children approach life as if they are starring in their own movies, and of course, nothing bad ever happens to the hero of the movie.
For me, these responsibilities are far reaching, and affect my behavior.  I would not consider climbing Mount Everest (please refrain from personal shots at this point.  I know this is about the same as me saying, “I will not accept a date with Angelina Jolee.”).  The chances of dying are just too great.  I saw an article about a woman who died on K2 (the world’s second tallest mount which is considered by some to be tougher than Everest).  The piece talked about how brave she was, and what a pioneer for women she was.  It also informed the reader, near the end, that she was a mother of two, ages four and six.  I have to be honest.  This woman had her priorities all out of whack.  If you are a mother, that is your primary identity.  She was a mother before she was a climber.  Mothers, and fathers, should put their parental responsibilities ahead of their other petty desires for a challenge or even fame.  My feelings go farther than this needless act of irresponsibility, however.

Several years ago my sister and her boyfriend (who eventually became her husband) went skydiving.  I am not afraid to skydive, and think it would probably be an interesting experience, but now, as a father and husband, I just cannot do it.  I know that most people who skydive do not have any problems, and enjoy the experience, but I can’t do it.  The consequences of a mistake by myself or anyone else in this situation are too great for me to risk.  I am not motivated by fear.  I simply have too much responsibility.

It extends even further.  The best example that I can come up with is the motorcycle.  I live in the Dallas area, and commute some distance to work.  With gas prices as high as they are, it would be a lot cheaper for me to ride a motorcycle to work.  As a father, I will not do it.  There are too many other drivers out there that do not pay attention to the road for me to take the chance.  I owe my daughter and my wife too much to take the chance that something bad could happen to me.  If you are on a motorcycle, and get into an accident, you are going to lose, and it could easily be very bad.  Every day it seems like you hear of a local fatality accident involving a motorcycle.

Part of me showing love to my wife and daughter is to avoid these things that add needless risk to my life.  Raising her, helping her to be a good person, and being involved in her life are just too important to me.  I know that I still have no guarantees, but I am going to do my best to do what is right by her, and the things that are beyond my control, I cannot worry about.

As I wrote this, I was faced with certain issues in my own life.  I could not finish it without confronting them, but I will deal with that in the next post.

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