I was just out for a walk, and I've decided on a new motto: "Roll dem bones!" Between yesterday and today, several rather large gambles have concluded, and they've reinforced my generally risk-perverse view of the world.
I've come to realize that most people vastly overestimate potential negative consequences when they make decisions. Most people seem reluctant to do anything unless they're virtually guaranteed success, but most of the time the consequences of failure are really rather benign. You apply for a job, you get rejected. You send a story to a magazine and don't get a response. You ask a girl out, she says no. Big deal.
Most of these "consequences" aren't even materially important -- they're all about what people may think of you if you fail. I guess I just don't care what most people think of me. I've written about the power of apathy before, and I still believe it. You win some, you lose some. The only way to keep from losing is not to play.
I'm not waxing philisophical because my recent risks turned out badly; on the contrary, I'm quite pleased. I just want to remind myself at times like this, when things are going well, that even if they had turned out differently it wouldn't really matter. I might be disappointed, but I wouldn't regret having taken the chance. In fact, in hindsignt, I can't think of a risk I've regretted taking, even when I've lost. Them's the breaks.
While we're on the topic of mottos, here's another: Everything's negotiable. Everything. The price of airline tickets, grades in school, pay at work, relationships, everything. You just need to talk to the right person. You may not always get your way in the end, but just because there's a rule written down somewhere doesn't mean there isn't someone with the authority to break it. That's why the old maxim -- "It isn't what you know, it's who you know." -- is abolutely true. The clerk at the front desk will tell you there aren't any rooms, but if you can get to the manager it may be a whole different story.