Friday, January 9, 2015

I Guarantee It.

A few weeks ago, the warranty on my car expired. In the months leading up to that event, I received no less than five letters and brochures encouraging (threatening?) me to purchase an extended warranty. 
Most said things like this:

DON’T LET YOUR WARRANTY EXPIRE!
HERE’S A DETAILED LIST OF SUPER EXPENSIVE STUFF THAT WILL PROBABLY STOP WORKING SOON!

The same situation arises each time I buy an electronic device. The extended warranty plan is always encouraged—the threat of “what if it breaks?” looming as I politely decline. The smiling salesperson always leads me to believe that I can buy my way into security for a mere $70.

But nothing can be completely protected. Or for that matter, predicted. Really and truly, there are no guarantees. Most of the time, we have very little control over the direction of our lives.

Yet, we still dedicate ourselves to planning. Buying guarantees. Insuring our belongings. We purchase warranties on our phones and insurance for our homes.  Hell, we even insure our LIVES. Then, for good measure, we create backup plans and secure options to safeguard our possessions against damage. We sleep soundly knowing that when a ‘what if’ moment arrives, our safety nets are in place. It’s the act of investing in a guarantee that makes us feel secure.

Here’s what I believe: there is power in the terror of helplessness. The moments that exist in a place where insurance cannot reach. The times where you look into the eyes of someone you love and ask, “What do we do now?” after realizing that your plans, the ones you've had for most of your life, have caught fire and were swept away in a flood.

I am not in control. I never was. Even when I foolishly believed my life was my own, it wasn’t. And those insurance policies? They make me feel better about the unpredictability of this world. I tuck them under my pillow each night, silently praying they’ll carry me through another day.

But the nasty stuff that sails swiftly through the small holes in our network of safety nets always arrives without warning. It pounces on our hearts, the one place where insurance cannot be bought, and makes us wonder why we even had that stupid insurance in the first place.

Let’s be clear: yes, you should have insurance. There’s no need to be unreasonable here. But you should also seek out the guarantee-less moments in your life, too. Chase them, if you must. Find the places and opportunities that are so scary and thrilling that they make your heart race and cause you to lose sleep at night.


You don’t get many chances like that. 

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