Not a Risk at All

Risk and chance, it seems, are taken by those in the most troubling predicaments, those with the least to lose. The greater one’s difficulty of circumstance, the wider their eye will look for opportunity. Hope is rarely prized by those in power, it is the downtrodden and cast aways that can see possibility in another’s waste and expect the unexpected from within. When so outmatched, one must often look not to improve in the game, but change the game itself.

These realities are the curse of the fortunate. The privilege that, while nearly assuring prosperity and wealth for the well endowed, has pushed their less fortunate counterparts to the summit. Singers and songwriters, athletes and authors, the troubled pasts of men and women have been more than an obstacle to overcome but a springboard on which to take flight.

While all are not provided the same comforts, each distinct walk through life lends to unique circumstances, individual strengths and weaknesses. It would do one well, then, to soak in her misfortunes and troubles, searching for the difficulties that promote an ability only she can obtain.

These circumstances need not be permanent, nor must they start at birth. My own temporary misfortunes have been the sparks with which life has been illuminated. Wasted time was not for naught, as the anxiousness following my release has stoked a desire to learn. Traveling without an understanding of the language led not to trouble but a reexamining of communication and an openness to seek assistance.

Only months ago, as I approached the search for a new living situation with little money and fewer friends in need of a roommate, I entered the process with trepidation. My initial inquests pushed toward comfort. Living alone would decrease stress, removing the unexpected and helping with focus. The financial burden required a remote location, bringing its own difficulties. A roommate, like the banker who toured me through his clean, well organized flat, busy enough in his own career that we would remain independent, felt like an easy choice. But absent risk, the flat felt absent of promise. Without time to waste, for who has time to waste, the final option was a given.

A Polish girl also joining the same entrepreneurship program as me had found a spacious, two bedroom flat that fit my budget. There were clear risks, but then again, what did I have to lose. Having both been vetted by the program, there was a degree of comfort in our mutual position, but far greater was the mutual willingness to pursue the unexpected. Many will share in the easy aspects of life, but strong bonds are built in trying times.

Our relationship has been nothing below superb, chatting regularly about the difficulties of starting a business with joint knowledge of colleagues that allows for rewarding gossip. But the true joy has not been in our similarities, but the differences that have enlightened us both. Educating her on American norms while soaking up the experience of a girl born in Algeria who had spent years as the only female on a large software team. The peak, however, has come from her mother’s visit, a Polish woman who speaks five languages, married an Iraqi man, and communicates with an infectious enthusiasm that makes me regret not having a tongue with which to converse. But, despite the need for translation, we each appreciated our unique perspectives, and over a dinner of Polish rabbit and potatoes, the stories of her years in Algeria and Poland and my own time in the States, were the only concern.

I didn’t foresee this at the start of our lease, and I’m not sure what the permanent effect will be. But looking back on my housing decision, it increasingly feels like I wasn’t taking a risk at all. Some are clearly born to a silver spoon, some to one of plastic or wood. But the fact is, these utensils are fleeting and often times there’s no need for a spoon at all.