We constantly find ourselves captivated by a whole lot of things. There’s a seemingly endless bunch of stuff that we become absolutely fascinated with and fixated upon, sometimes to the point that we’re held in some sort of riveted hypnotic trance. A lot of times we’re kind of like mesmerized moths who find ourselves irresistibly drawn to some sort of light, whatever that light might be, erratically fluttering around it until we either lose interest in it or are zapped by it.
We frequently seem to be most captivated by the very things that can hurt us as if they have some irresistibly seductive quality to them that the tamer things in life don’t appear to have. We seem to have an insatiable tendency to wrangle with risk. There’s an unquenchable compulsion within us to ‘play with fire,’ or ‘push the envelope,’ or ‘step over the line,’ or ‘dance with the devil’ as they say. It seems that we’re all daredevils at heart, some more and some less, but we all have a bit of risk-taking engrained in us somewhere. There’s that insatiable adrenaline rush that we’re all looking for, or we’re after the ability to claim sole bragging rights for some innately daring feat, or we’re consumed with the desire to squash our incessant boredom by stepping outside of the box and doing something outrageous. In some place at some time, an opportunity to let that side of ourselves out to play presents itself and we let the games begin.
Determining What’s Risky and What’s Not
The age-old concept of ‘calculated risk,’ seems to be forever handicapped with an inherently diminishing sense of contradiction. However, ‘risk’ that’s ‘calculated’ may very well be the core ingredients found in the recipe of success. Part of responsible or calculated risk-taking is knowing what’s really risky and what’s not. To be able to do that, we have to know where the ‘line’ is. We have to know what’s safe and what’s not, what’s reasonable and what’snot, what’s within the norm and what’s outside of it. To know if I’m pushing the envelope, I have to know where the envelope ends. In other words, we have to have a sense of the boundaries and the limits that define that which is safe and that which is not. Otherwise, I can’t define what I’m doing asthe norm, or something that’s other than the norm and exactly how far out from the norm this action sits.
Healthy Reasons for Stepping Over the Lines
Once those lines are defined, we often make an intentional decision to step over those lines. Sometimes those decisions are a result of our desire to elevate our humanity, or to seize untapped potential and thrust ourselves to new levels. Sometimes our intent is to overcome fears that have dogged us and crush self-esteems that have diminished us. At times we step over these lines because we’re tired of living out mediocre lives and passively slogging through this pathetic existence of ours, so we lift up our heads and set our sights on great things. At other times we decide that we’re not going to passively exit this life without leaving a legacy that will provide a beacon to coming generations,and so we cast off restraint, bury inhibitions and ascend great heights upon which to construct bright beacons.
Unhealthy Reasons for Stepping Over the Lines
At other times we step over the lines just to step over the lines. Many times it’s nothing more than the challenge of the risk without any real rationale for the risk other than it’s a challenge. It’s about that risk-taking part of ourselves, which in less than thoughtful moments, risks just to risk. Many times that dare-devil part of us is unleashed without any real reason or goal other than we have the chance to risk taking a risk. And so we do it.
Risk Has a Result of Fascination
However,more often than not, unhealthy risk-taking is driven by something that we’ve become fascinated with or mesmerized by. We’re held in some hypnotic trance by something that’s commandeered our thinking and completely impaired our judgment. We’ve become so taken by some concept, or person, or theory, or goal, or philosophy, or trend that it’s completely hijacked our hearts and totally manacled our minds. And so we ‘play with fire,’ or ‘push the envelope,’ or ‘step over the line,’ or ‘dance with the devil’ out of this blinding fascination rather than doing so out of sound thinking and clear goals.
This kind of risk-taking is entirely unproductive and ultimately destructive. The sort of risk-taking that arises from some blinding fascination is nothing more than stupidity running wide open in total darkness down a dead-end road. Risking to achieve great things is what we were designed for. But risking in some hypnotic trance is taking what we were intricately designed for and driving it off a cliff that has no bottom. Therefore, we find our lives ina tragic free-fall, plummeting so rapidly that risk-taking is altogether replaced by survival because it is now our lives that are at risk.
Playing with the Dark
One of the things that we seem captivated with and frequently entranced by is the darker side of life. There’s something tantalizing about dark things as if they’re the ‘forbidden fruit’ that we know we shouldn’t touch but choose to touch anyway because of the excitement attached to touching them. Too often they become the very ‘dark light’ that we as the moths find ourselves entranced by and fluttering around. And so we‘step over the line’ out of being entranced rather than out of a desire to elevate our humanity, or to seize untapped potential, or overcome fears, or crush self-esteems that have diminished us, or decide that we’re not going to passively exit this life without leaving a legacy that will provide a beacon to coming generations. We step over the line with no forethought and we end up being forlorn at a result.
Halloween is one of those things that captivates many. It’s been granted status as a holiday and because it has, what it is and what it symbolizes has been granted some sort of legitimacy. Halloween and what it embodies has been given some stamp of approval because we’ve stamped it onto the calendar. And so we feel we’ve been granted some element of permission to play with darkness because we’ve got this holiday on the calendar that says we can.
As with anything else, we need to think about what we’re doing when we’re deciding to cross a line, whatever that line might be. What is our reason? What is our purpose? If we’re out to raise our lives to the next level or advance others, our reasons likely have legitimacy. But if we’re crossing the line just to say we’ve crossed the line, or we’re doing so out of some captivation with whatever it is that’s captured our fancy, or dabble in something that we feel that’s forbidden, then we’re likely to become captive to those very things and ultimately consumed by them.
Playing in the Dark
We have unparalleled opportunities to do unbelievable things. But if those opportunities are not tempered by wisdom, driven by right motivation, and held with the recognition that notall opportunities are healthy opportunities, then we are doomed to cross a whole bunch of lines that are going to create a whole lot of problems. We must understand that darkness can readily imitate light, but it cannot begat it. Therefore, by playing in the dark we will always and in every instance be darkened ourselves.