If you're anything like me, you'll have been brought up with a strange mixture of messages about risk. Sometimes parents behave as if they want to protect you, other times they can seem unbelievably lax. Mine constantly used to tell me that I should not take drugs, yet they let me stay out until 4.am when I was fourteen years old. Off I went to pick up boys at the local amusement arcade in a dodgy seaside town armed only with the interesting advice, from my father, that there was no such thing as rape, and all women had to do was keep their legs together.
This sort of contradiction made me extremely cautious and cowardly - by sixteen I really had seen a lot - including, by the way, the aftermath of an attempted rape on a friend - and scared myself quite a bit. At the same time it made me inclined occasionally to take quite large and impulsive risks. The biggest one being, I suppose, to pack up my entire life and work (and identity - more of that later) in London and head to Prague in 2001, where an odd experience had lead me to believe that if I hung around a certain street long enough, I would meet a man with whom I would find the perfect working and living partnership. This crazed conviction turned out to be true. And we now live on that exact street. Sometimes visionary moments are not merely illusions it seems.
The moment when you step away from what feels safe and step towards what feels exciting and fulfilling is going to feel impossibly risky. It's that "Fool" moment in tarot when you step blithely off the roof and your guardian angel has a good laugh. Unfortunately, there's no other way. If you want this, you'll have to step out into thin air in the belief that you won't plummet to earth.
Something to do if you feel inclined.
Write down something - that would affect your work, not just a personal thing - that you really, really want to do but haven't so far. It might be left to one side because it seems silly, expensive, awkward to organise, pointless, self-indulgent, too ambitious or just plain weird. But write it down and stick it on a post-it on your computer monitor for a day or two. Or hide it in a drawer where only you can see it. Or just stick it firmly in your brain. Think for a while about the risks involved in making this happen.
Mine reads "Go to Grasse and do a perfume course" - because at some stage I very much want to add perfumes to the mix of things we do. I know it's a long way off in the future but maybe I can get there. The risk? On the surface, just time and money. Deep down though, I am slightly afraid that I wouldn't be any good at this. For me, I hang back from risking that disappointment. Only one way to find out though.