The Danger with Playing It Safe

A common joke amongst us Mormons is the idea that every prayer we offer at church includes the phrase “may we all return home in safety” – even if we’re only traveling a couple of blocks away.

When I travel, I am often told to “have a safe trip.”

And I used to tell my kids “the most important thing you can be is safe.”

But is that really true?

There is clearly a need deep within us to be safe. Look at the way a two-year-old clings to a ratty old stuffed animal or blanket that’s been dragged around on the floor, through the park and back again. Try to replace it with a new one and they won’t have it. A sense of security has been given to the object and they don’t know how they will be able to live without it.

I recently saw myself as this two-year-old. I’ve been clinging to anything from ideas to traditions to favorite menu items, believing they give me comfort and somehow keep me safe. The more I cling to them, the more I need them.

But, I’m starting to wonder if I really do value safety the most and at what cost it comes. What if I explore past those things that bring me comfort? What if I want more from a trip than safety? And, what if safety is already there without my even needing to cling to it?

There’s a spirit behind exploring, an ability to sit in the void between what we know and what we don’t know yet. When we let go of something that makes us feel safe and secure, it’s like the trapeze artist swinging from one bar to the next. It can feel a bit like a free-fall or it can feel like flying, it all depends on how attached we are to holding onto a bar.

The Wayfarer is a weekly column that embodies exploring the world, in varying degrees of import. It’s the capturing of that pioneer spirit of our heritage and folklore. Growing up, I remember seeing Hole-in-the-Rock at Lake Powell and hearing the stories of those who went off on a great journey of exploration to . . .  Bluff, Utah. This steep and narrow crevice in the vast Glen Canyon provided an opportunity in what would otherwise be an impassible space.

Not inspired by their destination, I can’t help but think about what kind of person leaves everything they know to go through the desert. What does it feel like to make your way down thousands of feet in a hole you’ve created in the rock? And how does that forever change the way you look at the world, even if you end up in Bluff?