The Safest Distance Between Two Points

Many of you know that Len and I are avid bicyclists. One of our favorite bicycle paths in Crystal Lake, Illinois had a heavily trafficked roadway to cross. A clear case of “the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.”

Over time and tragedy the city decided to build a bicycle bridge that takes peddlers above the traffic. They found that the safest distance between two points—at least in this case—is a curved line: up and over!

There are times when taking risks is not a good idea. There are, however, times when a little risk taking is healthy.

When was the last time you took a risk?

Listen with your heart,

Laurie Buchanan

Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”
— Laurie Buchanan

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© 2012 Laurie Buchanan– All Rights Reserved

59 thoughts on “The Safest Distance Between Two Points

  1. Risk is a part of everything I do.
    I see risk everywhere, from the risk of disease, to the risk of fire, to food hygiene, to global catastrophe…..

    I love that quote from Helen Keller “Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.”

    And while to many I may seem to be a risk taker, to myself, I seem very cautious indeed; it is all a matter of perspective.

    To live is to face the certainty of death; I’d just like to postpone the encounter for a few trillion years.
    And who knows!

    • Ted – You bring up an excellent point…it’s a matter of personal perspective. For example: climbing the sheer face of a rock wall seems incredibly risky to me. On the other hand, it’s something my son does with glee. Writing a deadline article for a global magazine would freeze said son in his tracks, yet I relish the task 🙂

  2. “the safest distance is between two points – at least in the case – up and over.” to get to the other side you have to go across, or go through, there is always another view, there is always a challenge, the risk of meeting yourself there.

  3. I suppose I take risks fairly regularly. However, this post reminds me of “learning” to cross the street in Vietnam, which was like taking your own life in your hands and tossing it out into the traffic–terrifying! Do a search for “crossing the street in Ho Chi Minh City” (or Saigon or Hanoi) on YouTube to see what I mean.

  4. I suppose on the one hand you can tie your life up in knots of cautiousness, and then on the other, become a kind of adrenaline junkie. Somewhere between is the art of healthy risk taking. Always struggling to find it.

  5. Where my family and I live there is an awesome trail network that spans the entire city. Our home is about 3.5 miles to the nearest trail head that goes north. Normally I will ride this if it is early in the morning with little traffic, as of late I have been loading the bikes up and driving to the trail. I can in some part control this risk. I’ve been hit by cars one too many times to take and more chances 🙂

    • CultFit – Great minds think alike. We used to ride our bikes through town to the trailhead too. And while neither Len or I have ever been hit (Holy Mackerel Andy!), we’ve had too many close calls. As such, we now drive our bikes to the trailhead and ride from that point 🙂

  6. Taking a risk, is life. Taking a risk is hearing your heartbeat in your ears and doing it anyway. I often take risks, but they are not foolish risks. There is a difference between taking a risk that may bring you want you desire and taking a risk that will change your life and others into a downward spiral. I have done both……I’m a little more careful these days.

  7. Sometimes I am a risk-taker and other times I play it way-too-safe. I like how this post seems to suggest that there are less risky ways of accomplishing our goals (such as up and over). Perhaps sometimes we need to experience risk and the danger/drama which accompanies it. Other times, we can bend like a branch in the wind and choose a less potent way. Great provocative post! It’s good to think about the answers to your questions, Ms. Laurie.

  8. I do not view myself as a risk taker, other than those attendant with normal life as mentioned by previous commenters. I do not hesitate to make decisions in situations where one is required, and I think there is sometimes a bit of a risk in that. Given a safer way to do something, that is what I will choose. Now. Perhaps when I was younger not so much.

    • Carol

      BEFORE: “Perhaps when I was younger, not so much.”
      AFTER: “Given a safer way to do something, that is what I will choose.”

      You provided a perfect example of wisdom gained from life experience, thank you 🙂

  9. I recently took (what felt like) a big risk by leaving behind a position in a business where I had acheived significant success, to go back to a business I had not been connected with for over 15 years. The decision was easy, since I was long overdue to move on from a toxic work environment. But the uncertainty of whether I could handle the (re)learning curve at this point in life, and provide immediate value at the level expected was a very real concern. So far…so good.

  10. As an overly cautious homebody, simply leaving the house often feels risky enough for this little hobbit.

    “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door. You step into the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no telling where you might be swept off to.”
    ~ Bilbo Baggins

    • Barbara R. – Your response gave me a face-splitting grin 🙂

      And we know that Frodo did, indeed, leave not only his little Hobbit house, but the Shire, and had the ring-bearing adventure of a lifetime…

  11. Our second car is all the bicycles we have – and yet I can not bike any more so I just walk every where and I love walking.
    My partner takes off every Saturday morning if is not raining or snowing for about a 50 mile ride, most of the time with 4 or 6 others recently all by himself. He also rides a lot in city traffic – although his last trip through Seattle downtown gave him pause – and he is looking at bike routes now. He rarely tells me his route and often does not turn on his cell phone…three times he has scared our socks off by not showing up until so late, but we can not tell anyone his route….so we work on No News is Good News. Last summer he came in with a huge dog bite and refused to report the St Bernard that came out of nowhere and attacked him….I figured out where and called it in.

    I am not doing anything risky right now…well I had a huge cyst removed off my back last week – stitches out tomorrow – but the last major risk was taking that hormone to attempt to lose weight and get my blood pressure and glucose stable….I accomplished 2 out of the 3 but have been plagued by nearly 10 full days lost to 8 hours of migraine headaches as the hormone leaves my system. The cost feels a bit too high right at this moment even for the success.

    • Patricia – Has your partner thought of carrying cayenne pepper spray? Len and I both carry it on a quick-release at our waists. I’m a dog lover to the max, but if one is trying to bite me, s/he is in for a nasty (but not fatal) surprise.

      I hope you detox from the hormone sooooooon. Drinking hot water (tea strength hot) with either fresh lemon or lime squeezed in is a whole body detox and may well speed things up a bit.

      • This morning when the headache started I had lemon juice in warm water…still took an hour but I stopped the progress – I think I could also use a vacation and some refreshing life activities.
        I am even tired of the garden right now…24 quarts of raspberries in the freezer and 21 of blueberries and the blues have just started….thinking about a ferry ride up to Terrill’s just for the boat ride of it…all day on the water…I think I need to make this happen.

  12. I love the “up and over” bridge – it’s a good metaphor for how we face problematic situations. I suppose in hindsight I’ve done some risky things but I tend not to focus too much on it – it’s too related to fear and wrecks my spontenaiety. Now I won’t walk into traffic or try to beat a train at a crossroad, so I must be a safe-nik?

  13. Laurie, I really can’t draw the line, is it every day living or is it taking a risk? If I climb a tree to cut out a limb, is it a risk or just a chore to be done? I know people who won’t go into my chicken house because of the number of snakes I’ve photographed there. Jumping into the truck to drive to town, who knows what’ll happen before I return home? Life without risk of some kind would seem to be a bland, colorless existence to me. I need a shot of adrenalin through my veins every so often just to prove my heart is still beating.

    • Sandi – And on more than one occasion you’ve given ME a shot of adrenalin with photos of said snakes (and ahem, more recently I involved your brother because I was concerned for your wellbeing). You’ve definitely given both our hearts a workout 🙂

      • Well it was scenic for sure…the trip there along the northern route, living there in wine country, and the return trip along the southern route.

        I suspect it might be like other things in our lives i.e. like looking at a lot of houses to notice what we really like and don’t like before we find the perfect one.
        However, there was nothing wrong with Napa. There was a personal experience while there which taught me more about myself, and then I kept waking up to that still small voice telling me “you have to go back.” When I came back I was guided to that place which I found is really my HOME. You know where I am talking about as so many of my blog post writings and photos are about it 🙂

  14. I have a suspicion that I am a risk taker by nature. For example I took a ten year old on a plein air oil painting excursion along top of a cliff today. This required dragging along two French box easels, my large camera backpack and the smaller backpack with water and food. No one fell and we have two finished paintings. A good day!

  15. The last time I ventured out on a limb and took a chance everything turned out AMAZING!! My boyfriend and I were living in Casper, WY and we got the opportunity to move to Boise, ID. We thought about it, we prayed about it, money was tight, we didn’t know how we were going to do it, but we did it anyway. It has been an amazing change in our lives :-D.


  16. Ah Laurie, I took a risk last week and paid the price. In other words I lost the foolish gamble. Rather than rake the back yard as I normally do before mowing the grass, I tried to cut corners by mowing before surveying. The result? The lawn mower cut off and wouldn’t re-start. I wound up bringing it to a local outlet, and was told the blade was damaged, requiring a $200 repair. I just in fact brought the mower, which is fueled by a battery that needs to be re-charged every time you use it, home today and took the proper precautions before proceeding. Sometimes one must learn the hard way!

    That’s a great picture of the overhead road crossing! We have a number of those in these parts. One is being constructed on a well-traveled rad just a few miles from my home.

    • Sam – Ouch! That’s a rough and expensive lesson, alright!

      After the 3-digit temperatures, our grass looked like short straw for a while. However, after the last few days of thunderstorms, we’re going to need to us a scythe before the mower — it’s like a jungle out there — with the weeds racing the grass 🙂

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  18. The last “risk” I took I’m not sure can be considered a risk … But in some ways, I guess it was. I attended a support group meeting as part of research for my WIP – something that I was sure was going to be quite uncomfortable for me – and for the individuals around the table who were suffering a terminal illness. In the end, the experience, while difficult (due to my empathetic nature and quickness to cry) was wonderful and provided gifts I couldn’t have expected. I was witness to a gentle, confident, GENEROUS and hopeful group of warriors who touched my life in a way that will likely never wash away. What I perceived as a risk was really a reward which is, I think, the way risk generally works.

  19. I’m happy to hear that a cycling bridge was built over top of the traffic bridge, Laurie. As an avid cyclist myself, it’s always a bit unnerving to be right in the middle of heavy traffic. I avoid it whenever possible, even if it means taking a longer route. I hope you’re doing well, and apologies for the late responses recently! 🙂

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