Which is worse, failing or never trying?

As I mentioned earlier, I have just returned from vacation. I ended my trip with five days in San Francisco, a city that I adored, and would love to visit again. Of course, no visit to San Fran is complete without a trip over the Golden Gate Bridge, which was, both times I attempted it, furiously foggy and in the fifties.

At the urging of my sister’s friend, we took a bus tour over the bridge rather than cycle, which worked out well as I thoroughly enjoyed the tour narration, and learned many interesting facts. One of my favourite stories was about the number of people that had climbed and / or jumped off the bridge – this was especially relevant as the day we were there a chap climbed the bridge and spent all night on the tower, unable to be located owing to the dense fog. Our tour guide told a story about two men that tried to parachute off the tower, and we were both blown back against the bridge, and were stuck hanging by their ‘chutes until a rescue team got them down.

How do you think these people felt? Do you think they wished they had never tried, or you think that they were happy that they at least attempted it, even if they did end up cold, incarcerated, and a laughing stock? The more I think about it the less convinced I am either way, but I do think about how they would feel if they had managed to jump off the bridge, and their parachutes hadn’t had enough air or time to properly deploy. How would they have felt if they’d ended up in the harbour with many cub yards of wet parachute pushing them under the water? Would they still have thought it was worth trying?

Yes, I’m using an extreme example here, but one that I think makes the point. This question is on the list, I’m sure, because of how popular it is to say “better to have tried and failed than have not failed at all”. This logic is enabling up to a point, and then it becomes foolish – and, unfortunately, who is know where that fine line is? I think it is important to aim high, to have dreams, and to work steadily towards them. I think we should always have confidence in our own abilities. I think that urging people to be brave is one thing, but urging people to be risky for risk’s sake is quite another. Especially, I am sad to admit, in this current economical and social climate. Yes, by saying that, I am now officially middle aged.

I think it is important to take risks if we have calculated the fallout – did the people jumping off the golden gate bridge ever consider any other outcome other than the parachutes opening? Was it really worth risking their lives to possibly be the only people ever to parachute off the Golden Gate Bridge? Maybe they thought so, but how many people agree with them? How many people would have told them that it was worth the risk than to never try it at all?

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