Kwa falls! Totally awesome. Have you been there before? It’s in Cross River State in Nigeria and you will be super wowed if you visit. I’ve been there once, over fifteen years ago and I still cannot forget that experience – going down the 234 steps to the area where the water is calmer and quiet and then climbing all the way to the main fall with the exposed roots of the tree as my main support. It was so much fun. There was a portion where a rocky formation extended over the water and to get across, you had to move along the rocky edge and risk falling into the water. Believe it or not, even though I wasn’t a good swimmer, I just did it. I thought only briefly about what could go wrong and then proceeded with caution. If the worst case scenario played out, I didn’t feel like there was a lot at stake.
Recently, a colleague spoke of jet skiing to the deep side of the ocean while on vacation in Malaysia. I asked someone if he was married and if he had kids and he answered in the affirmative. I really wondered about this, so I engaged him – what were you thinking… didn’t you worry about sharks, sting rays, drowning… He said he was trying to overcome his fears and just as I expected, he said he wasn’t yet married and had no children at that time. He sounded like he would think twice before trying that now.
You see, when I think back on my time at Kwa Falls, I really wonder. Would I be that adventurous now? I’ve observed that our risk aversion increases with a particular responsibility – parenthood. My mum once told me that my dad used to drive really fast in the early days but as the number of children they had increased, his average speed decreased. As adventurous as I used to be, I find myself doing a lot of risk assessing these days. I think about what could go wrong, what safety gear I have on, the safety barriers in place, the availability and effectiveness of emergency response in that city or town, and so on. Ultimately, I try to ensure that as much as it depends on me, I return home after all the excitement to take care of my kids. I’ll try to stay fit so I can catch up on the craze when they’re all grown and independent but I won’t be surprised to find that my new level of risk aversion has come to stay.
What do you think? Have you identified anything that makes you more risk averse?