Take Care but Don’t be Cautious
It was past midnight with a full moon out and I was running in the jungle down towards the river to get a pair of glasses someone forgot when I stopped myself. Thoughts came into my mind that I might hurt myself, so I slowed to a walk. Then another thought came “Take Care but Don’t be Cautious”, and I started running again.
We all naturally don’t want to get hurt; that’s part of self-preservation hard coded into every living being. But it’s about “taking care” and not about being “cautious” and when I realized the difference between them, I started running again.
A part of me wanted to play it safe. Be cautious, it’s dark out, the boulders to get down to the river can be slippery, you might fall and break something and other thoughts streamed through my mind.
“Be cautious. Be cautious,” was the general message though it was really fear trying to take charge.
But it was a full moon out, I’ve walked this path for over 2 years and, most importantly, I wanted to run that night. Take care but don’t be cautious, I thought. So, when I ran, I took care. I ran, looking 2 or 3 steps ahead. I avoided the places I knew would be slippery and made sure to not run flat footed. I didn’t want to get hurt but I didn’t want to be cautious either. And if I did fall, at least it wasn’t because I was reckless but because I wanted to have fun, live life.
Now, whenever I’m confronted with something new or challenging, I remind myself what it means to take care and what it means to be cautious:
When you’re cautious, you create barriers because you’re afraid. And those barriers prevent new things from coming in, but it also doesn’t let you out. You put yourself into your own self-made prison which you mistakenly call your comfort-zone.
You could be cautious about small things like trying new food or changing your hairstyle, bigger things like moving to another country or changing careers, or serious things like relationships.
There’s always an exchange when you’re cautious.
With relationships, your barriers never let anyone close because you’re afraid to get hurt, betrayed or abandoned. But in exchange, you’ll never commit to falling in love, trusting someone or feeling you’re Not alone. And, it doesn’t guarantee the people within your comfort-zone won’t hurt, betray or abandon you.
Your barriers don’t prevent bad things from happening; they prevent new and exciting things from entering your life and prevents you from pushing and challenging your limits which allows you to grow, learn, and have fun.
To be clear, “taking care” doesn’t mean being reckless.
If you want to change careers, you can take care by saving up so you’re not financially stressed when you start out or research it to really know what it’s really like and not what you think it’s like.
By taking care, when things don’t go according to plan, they become lessons learned instead of another brick added to the wall. It keeps you open and hopeful for your future not closed and afraid of what’s to come.
Taking care isn’t the absence of fear or worry. Maybe this person will break your heart, the new job won’t be what you thought, or the dish you ordered will taste horrible but it’s worth the risk. Unlike being cautious where your fears and worries are in charge and making decisions for you. When you take care, your fears and worries are only there to advise and you’re in charge and responsible for the choices you make.