July 16, 2008

Personal Conservatism

The other day, on a bike ride, I came face to face with my vulnerability. I'm not the most active guy in the world, but I go to the gym every so often and can hold my own on an elliptical. So on this ride, we're chugging along, cars whizzing past and I'm doing alright. Then we get to the top of this decent sized hill and start heading down.

In my youth, I would ride around a lot. I would take jumps, could even do some tricks and was pretty fearless. In all honesty, I would ride down steeper hills than this with my hands behind my head. Now, as I travel down this, ok, it's not really steep that much at all, hill, my heart is pounding. I see a patch of rocks come up ahead and kinda freak out. I imagine hitting them, spinning out of control and breaking both legs, bed-bound forever. I imagine my brakes not working and slamming into a car, breaking my hands, my dreams of hand-modeling gone forever. Every horrible thing you can imagine goes through my mind.

It's amazing how none of this came to me as a kid. I wouldn't think twice about doing something incredibly stupid, and now look at me. I'm my father yelling at me to slow down. I'm the old man screaming "get off my lawn!". I'm the soccer mom "tsk, tsk"-ing me. How did I get to this place?

And thinking about it more, as a social worker, how will I handle risk with my clients? Will I be able to stand by while my clients take risks that would be unacceptable to me? Will *my* scaredycattedness kick in and make me want to save them, or will I be able to step back and let people be who they are? I guess only time will tell.


Reas Kroicowl said...

That's all it seems clients do: take risks that are unacceptable to us. You get used to the idea that you can't save them all. In fact, I'm not sure I've managed to save any....

Anonymous said...

It's an interesting question. I think if you want to provide that freedom of choice, you will. I'm about as boring and conservative as it gets in my private choices, yet I think most of the time I'm still able to encourage freedom of choice for clients. I'm not sure why this is--maybe I just know I don't want to take responsibility for every turn clients' lives take, which means I need to empower them to make to make the choices that best suit them.

cb said...

This will probably not help you in the slightest but for me, it's been a matter of time. I am much less risk averse than I used to be (with clients - with myself, like you it's the other way round!).
I used to worry a lot and err towards caution - now - and I think its just a matter of having seen and done more - I am much less likely to!
I think as others have said, it becomes a point of being able to draw a line under where your responsibility lies and where people retain their own responsibility for their actions and making sure you don't move your responsibility into the boundaries of their responsibility (if that makes sense!).

antiSWer said...

Thanks for the comments. :)

I'll take it slow and work on increasing my tolerance. :)

Oh, and I know I can't save them. I'd accept not having to watch them be hurt, though. :p

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