Nothing Ventured; Nothing Gained

You’ll have to excuse me, but I’m feeling rather philosophical this morning:

It’s the things/people we care about most that have the power to give us joy and also cause us pain. I know this isn’t an original thought. But it’s been on my mind recently, and I think it bears repeating. Certainly none of us gets through life without learning the truth of it. Examples are all around us. The dream of true love might last a lifetime or turn into a true nightmare if the relationship ends badly. The prosperous career may bring satisfaction and financial reward or may crash and burn when the economy suddenly goes south. The cause we’ve poured our life’s blood into may succeed gloriously or fail just as spectacularly.

When my husband and I were first married and discussing whether or not we should have kids, I remember saying that children would probably be our biggest sources of joy as well as our biggest heartaches. Parenthood, I figured, would be worth all the sweat and tears if the kids turned out well. But even if we did everything right, which wasn’t likely, things could still go horribly wrong. There were no guarantees. (In case you’re wondering how things turned out, we have two sons, all grown up, and we’re very proud of both of them!)

The problem is there’s no joy without emotional commitment. That’s just how we’re wired. Yet the more we care, the more we risk being hurt. The same paradox applies to all emotionally risky ventures. It may seem safer not to get involved, not to lay our hearts on the line, especially after having been hurt before. Yet that would be to opt out of the best life has to offer. I know I’m supposed to be quoting Jane Austen, but what comes to mind here are the words of the Bette Middler song, The Rose: “It is those afraid of dying who never learn to live.”

I don’t consider myself a very brave person, but I do venture out on a limb occasionally. That’s where the fruit is, after all. Right?

For the last several years, I’ve been pouring my heart and energy into my writing career.  It’s been a true gift to have something new and interesting going on in my life at this stage, and I’m very thankful for it. It certainly would have been safer to stay in my comfort zone – maybe dabble a little, but not attempt publication. Instead, I went all in. Yes, there are moments when I wonder if it’s worth it. But oh! What I would have missed if I hadn’t tried!

They had a rich reward in store, for every present inconvenience. (Sense and Sensibility, chapter 43)

See related posts Making Connections (on big rewards) and The Honeymoon is Over! (on the risks).

As for Jane Austen, her “safe” choice would have been to marry wealthy Harris Bigg Wither when she had the chance. She would have been financially secure and the mistress of a great estate. Instead she turned him down for the riskier but potentially more rewarding future of remaining single and true to her belief (as expressed in a letter to her niece Fanny) that, “Anything is to be preferred or endured rather than marrying without affection.” We are glad that she made that choice. And as far as we know, she was also.


What risky ventures have you undertaken? And what were the results? Is there something new you’re thinking of trying?

About Shannon Winslow

author of historical fiction in the tradition of Jane Austen
This entry was posted in Jane Austen Quotes, life, writing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Nothing Ventured; Nothing Gained

  1. I for one am glad you didn’t play it safe and take the easy non-writing path. Even killing off poor old Mr.Bennett doesn’t deminish your writing. You have a gift that gives. So, don’t give it up.

  2. Haha! I’m glad you haven’t written me off because of “poor Mr. Bennet,” John. And I have NO INTENTION of giving up on writing. I’m totally hooked and having too much fun.

  3. bessamina says:

    Hi there. I found your blog on my friend Shelley’s blog. I can’t wait to read your books, after I finish Shelley’s, of course:). I admire your courage to go for your dream. I am currently pursuing my dream of becoming a dance instructor. I created a dance studio in my garage and am on my way to becoming a certified Zumba instructor. I am blogging about it on “The Blessed Life” if you are interested in hearing about my journey. Thank you for asking about my risky and somewhat scary dream and I wish you all the best as you pursue yours.

    • That’s great! I should come to your Zumba class, but chances are you’re not anywhere close to Puyallup, WA. Thanks for your interest in my books. I hope you will read and enjoy them… after Shelley’s, of course!

      • bessamina says:

        Thanks Shannon for what you said. If you are interested, I think the Refit team I really like(Zumba girls from Texas) might be doing a class in Seattle. I live in the Portland area, so who knows, we could maybe take the class together. I’m not sure if they are coming, but if they are, I am there! Ok, better get to reading. Shelley is sending more chapters and needing reviews:)

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