03 September 2008


I am on the Island of Iona with my mother. We are midway through a trip that started in the south of England in Torquay and will end with our return to London to fly home.

One of the subjects under discussion at we amble about has been stupid things we have done over the years. My most recent memorable stupid moment was about two years ago when I decided that I could manage to roll my mini-van down the driveway in the dark after the battery had died. However, once I put the van in neutral and gave an initial shove it gathered momentum much faster than I expected and rolled into a tree.

Now all along, there had been a little voice in the back of my head saying, in a somewhat sing-song voice "don't do this, it's not safe." I ignored that voice and ended up having to replace parts on the bike rack that was mounted on the back of the van as it had cushioned the van when it backed into the tree.

I did start listening to that voice when the van rolled away and I did not try to leap into the open door and steer.

Today we decided to climb to the highest point on Iona. Yesterday I had nearly had a spill when I tripped on a pothole in Tobermory and my ankle got a bit twisted. Nothing too bad and it didn't hurt at all this morning, but as we climbed-- scrambled really--it started to complain a bit. So when we reached a wide flatish spot not quite at the top of the hill I decided that I had come far enough.

Mom decided to climb a bit higher but stayed where I could see her-- so she didn't get to go all the way to the cairn at the top either. As she climbed, I felt bad about coming all this way and not reaching the summit (such as it is), but I had a clear vision of other times I had not listened to the prudent voice in my head and suffered near-disaster as a result. I thought about risk and pushing one's limits-- was I being overly cautious? How would I find out unless I pushed on? What if I pushed on and then found out I had over done it? In short, I began to doubt my decision. Still, I stuck to it.

Mom climbed back down to where I waited and we descended together. I voiced my concern that I had held her up and she reassured me that each person on a hike has to be aware of their own limitations and not overdo it so that everyone travels safely.

I found that comforting.

In this case, while I did not make it to the summit of the hill, I did make it safely back down again and me and my ankle are free to continue having further adventures, thanks to the still small voice of prudence.

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