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I don’t like gambling. We should all gamble a lot.

Images by Nick Hussey, from London Paralympics Closing Ceremony

I’ve never gambled.

I believe we make (ostensibly) our own luck. I think gambling is hiding from the truth. That there’ll be no saving us with luck, that we must work slowly and surely to make our lives better. Reality. Dull, sensible, hard, reality. Bookies make money because they know the odds and they know they’ll win. I’m a bit hardcore about it, as though giving in to gambling is somehow leaving my life to chance, instead of taking it by the reins.

I’m really not comfortable with gambling. I’m weird.

I met a professional gambler recently. He looked normal. Good, in fact. He wasn’t grizzled, with dark sad eyes and shaky fingers. He smiled, was relaxed, intelligent, balanced. And very very successful indeed. He had made a fortune from gambling. By applying science and rigour to it. He had overturned my expectations. I like having my prejudices thrown in an instant. It reminds me what fascinating creatures we remain and will always be.

So I started thinking, as I chatted to him. And he made me realise. I AM a gambler. Especially now. I love gambling. And I do it with very good reason.

Do nothing and nothing happens.
If you don’t try, you don’t get anything.
You must be willing to risk failure to gain glory.

Heard these before? These are the bon mots of motivational speakers, successful business people and gold medal winners. They sacrificed much to get their success. They gambled with their sleep, their relationships, money and comfort.

Then I realised this is universal. Not just the Hyper-Humans. All of us. We MUST risk to succeed in anything.

To succeed in:
All of it

We have to pick up the phone and call the school sweetheart. To risk the rejection. We have to risk getting hurt and let down to form close ties. We must let go of the brakes to be able to scream with joy at the speed of descending.

Sometimes we get hurt. Our hearts. Pride. Bones. Risk involves failure. We must fail to be happy. Because we WILL fail if we try. But if we don’t try, we don’t get anything. We don’t love the partner, get the job, or win the race. Doing nothing is nothingness. The soft dull thrum of life slipping away, unfulfilled, unlived.

Pro cyclists risk it all for glory. Many, indeed most of them will never reach their goals. Isn’t that sad? Pathetic? Pointless? Or are their lives enriched by the struggle? The knowledge that they TRIED. The knowledge that they didn’t take the easy route out and worked harder for that thing that’s always out of reach. With that comes a soul that swells with pride and satisfaction. No what ifs.

Just trying is glorious. I love the tryer more than the winner. The fat lad killing himself up the mountain deserves more respect than the gifted whippet who isn’t giving it his all.

I used to be a scared to do anything. I was scared of failure. Scared of the girl laughing in my face or the job rejection letter. Then I saw people around me with regret weighing them down. Their chances lost. The betting shop is closed for them. That is the worse gamble. Not to bet at all.

Don’t round the hairpin bend on the wrong side of the road. Weigh up your risks. But equally, don’t come down with your hands gripping the brakes. Let go.

Who Dares Wins and other magnificent cliches.

Gamble with your life. Or its no life at all.

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