Thursday, 14 June 2018
Health and Safety versus risk and freedom
This is not the view from my loo today. Rather it is something I stumbled upon during this morning's walk in the woods near Deptmore Lock.
And what a wonderful site it was. Using only the natural earth a group of people had sculpted an adventure trail for cycles. It looked like an ancient burial mound created by some long dead race.
In my youth I was regularly sent off to play in the woods, where my only tools were my imagination and whatever I found to hand. I constructed some pretty serviceable dens, but nothing on this scale! What fun must be had here. What thrills and spills and what a sense of comradship and adventure.
But already I hear those two headmasters Health and Safety barking their displeasure. There are no safety barriers, no soft mats to land on and probably no adult overseeing the sport. There are no opening and closing hours, no St John's Ambulance on standby. The potential for serious injury or even death boggle their minds.
And that's the thing. Do we value safety over adventure? Do we allow our children to grow by experimenting and taking risks, knowing there is a good chance they may come to harm? Or do we wrap them in cotton wool, sit them on the sofa and place some technological device in their hands so they can experience second hand adventure?
And what about ourselves? Do we view the world outside our window with fear and distrust or do we stride out there, heads held high, boldly greeting whatever comes across our path?
A woman recently questioned my wisdom of operating locks on my own. She pointed out what could go wrong. She advised me to wait for another boat, Oh and don't moor in the middle of nowhere as you never know what might lurk in the hedgerow.
I have my own store of fears and anxieties and I have to battle daily to keep them in perspective. But I will not let my fear stand in the way of my dreams. I will not let the 'what ifs' stop me from sucking the marrow out of life. I will not value my health and my safety over my freedom to experiment and experience.
There is a cartoon doing the rounds on social media. It depicts a worried Piglet talking to Winnie the Pooh. Piglet says "One day we will die Pooh". And the wise old bear replies "Yes Piglet, but on every other day we will live." Quite!
Meanwhile I have this lock in front of me. But it is blowing a gale today, so I shall do it tomorrow!