Set for Life?

One night last week, while walking my dog Scout, my mind wandered on to the topic of risk.

I was lamenting my own sense of risk aversion. As long as I can remember, the fear of loss has always outweighed the joy of gain in my own mental risk calculation. 

Then looking down, lost in my own head, I found a lottery ticket resting in the street.  It’s name, Set for Life, struck my as ironic, as clearly the person who bought it, presumably still isn’t.

What would “set for life” mean for you? 

If you felt that way would you take more risks or less?  If you felt “set” would you hold ever more tightly to what you had?  Or would you feel free to give anything above and beyond “set” away to others?  Maybe you can’t even wrap your head around ever feeling that way.

As I continued my walk, I noticed that the windows of our buildings downtown were decorated for Memorial Day.  Among the flags and pictures of our town’s veterans past and present, one picture and caption stopped me in my tracks.  It was of three sets of parents whose commonality was each having five sons who fought in World War II. 

There was no postscript to tell us how many of them were injured or killed in action.

I wondered if any of those families had felt set for life before the war called.  I asked myself how those fifteen young men felt about their own mental risk calculation.

On the 20th anniversary of the D-Day invasion, reflecting on those who had risked and lost their lives, Dwight Eisenhower said, “These people gave us a chance, and they bought time for us, so that we can do better than we have before.”

And there it was:  The reminder, that it should be hard to feel “set for life” while others suffer and that the best risk should be taken in service of others.

In other words, take risks so others might someday be set for life.

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