Fortune Favours the Bold

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The hardest part of writing this post will be making it short enough to be readable. I seem to be full of words tonight. See, I’m rambling already. I watched The Postman  a few nights ago. The megalomaniacal general had a great line, which is by no means original. “Fortune favours the bold”, he said. I’m a big fan of Movie Wisdom, so I was powerfully drawn for a while by the seduction of an improved life situation by simply stepping up to the plate and spitting in the general direction of the pitcher. Though I don’t believe in a key principle of the ancient saying, I now find myself in a world in which a bolder, less timid and fearful approach may possibly serve me well. Perhaps I should explain. (Maybe you should get a cup of coffee. This will take a while.)

The key principle to which I do not subscribe is the concept of fortune itself, or as I will describe it here, luck. I can state with no fear of successful contradiction that there is no such thing as luck. If you think that you are lucky, or unlucky for that matter, you are deluded. I can hear the howls of protest clear over here in Paradise. Possibly a thought experiment is in order.

Suppose I flip a coin five times and it comes up each time heads. We might scratch our  heads, eh? Five times in a row it’s heads? It seems unlikely. But, we have to admit that it’s possible. Now suppose that I propose a bet. I will bet you that the next flip will be heads. Would you take tails at even odds? What if I sweetened up the bet for you? I put one of something on the table (call it a Dollar or whatever, just to make it interesting) and you put two and I let you choose tails. Some people at this point might be thinking, “Take the bet. It’s got to be tails, since it’s come up heads five times in a row.” Some people would be dead wrong. It’s a sucker bet. The next flip of the coin has exactly one chance in two of coming up tails, or heads, for that matter. My expected return on the bet is greater than yours, since the probability of either of us winning is actually the same and you put two dollars on the table. In fact it doesn’t make any difference at all if the coin came up heads five times or ten times or a hundred or a million times (however unlikely that might be) in a row as heads; the next flip still has only a fifty-fifty chance of being tails.

I’m sure that you wouldn’t take the bet anyway. You don’t believe in luck either. You’re too smart for that.

Hey, I’m not making this up. Now let’s take that and extrapolate it to the general concept of luck. It doesn’t take much imagination to do so. Upon examination, the idea of luck disappears in a puff of fairy dust. Lucky numbers in the lottery – posh! Nonsense. Bad luck – no such thing; good luck – the same. Probability is computable, but inexact. One can predict outcomes only within calculated ranges – some outcomes more likely than others. Some will win. Some will lose. Nothing can predict who with any certainty more than the formulas provide. More importantly, there is no mystery force which changes the outcome of future events based on outcomes in the past. Artillery shells do sometimes fall into an existing crater. Lighting does occasionally strike twice.

Okay, so “Fortune Favours the Bold” doesn’t seem so true, huh? At least not if we think of fortune as lucky outcomes.

All that was a red herring. I’m not here wasting your valuable time today to blather on about luck. I want to talk about being bold.

What if we take that old phrase and gently massage it until it mellows into something we can reason with. How about if we say, “Good outcomes tend to be achieved by those who are prudent, but not overly cautious.” Or maybe, “One might be better served by being less fearful so that clear, rational thinking can be the basis of decision making.” Well, now we are getting to an approach that does not depend on the clearly false idea of luck to succeed.

So, the question I am pondering is:  How do I overcome the paralysis of fear? I want good outcomes, but I can’t put my trust in luck. I haven’t been lucky lately. (Wait for it – the humour is coming.) Yet the saying pulls me powerfully to its promise of reward. It seems so true. Maybe if I were a bit bolder, things might go better for me. Why? How could this be.

Why the answer has been so long coming to me is puzzling. I’ve been putting my trust in the wrong place. When what felt like the foundation of all of my comfort, security and welfare was jerked from beneath me, I fell into a dungeon of terror. All of the minor uncertainties of life from which I was formerly protected by a partnership as bullet-proof as a tank suddenly became gigantic threats, each one magnified by grief, stress and depression.

I try to avoid getting all religious on you, dear readers, because I know that I’m speaking to a very broad audience and that is not the purpose of this journal anyway. However, there is no other way to put it. I now need to put all my trust where it belongs. My wife is not my security, my source of welfare and comfort any longer. If fact, if I’m honest, Eunie never was. Oh, she was only to happy to be that for me, but she could not. Not really, no matter how much she wanted to be.

I’ve talked this over with some very switched-on, caring people whose opinions I trust. They tell me not to beat myself up over this. Many people who enjoy such intense, Vulcan Mind Meld relationships such as Eunie and I shared for nearly half a century fall into a dependence that is both understandable and, to a great extent, unavoidable. In fact, this kind of implicit trust, interdependence and division of labour is a major source of the synergistic power of such relationships. Together, we added up to more than two. So, I don’t feel so bad that I let that take over. It was a great ride and we accomplished much more than we ever dreamed we would. I’m infinitely sad that it’s over, but I need to compartmentalise that sadness.

Now I need to get my functionality back. I can’t do that if I can’t think clearly and rationally about problems. If I allow my doubts and fears to control my decisions, I’m not going to get anywhere. I can reduce this impediment by remembering my ultimate source of security. It’s not money. It’s not things. It’s not my abilities. It’s not my friends. It’s my Creator, my Father. It’s God.

Boldness is the exercise of one’s beliefs accompanied by a certainty that positive and well considered actions will produce desirable outcomes. Timidity and fear are not compatible with confidence and trust. I need to act in accordance with my beliefs, my world view, if you please. I either trust or I do not. If I do not, then I must fall back on my own resources, which have already proven inadequate to deal with present circumstances.

Okay, I lost a few of you there, but that’s okay. I’m not here to preach. This is an intensely personal experience which I am telling you about. That’s all. You can take it for what you will. Hopefully, someone will dig it.

Now for some nice, self-deprecating humour.

It is fiendishly difficult to find images to go with such a post. I couldn’t find any pictures of myself being bold. I found that rather odd. Oh, well. I can do what I usually do – fake it. All of these images have appeared on MPBM before, just not in the same post. So, move along folks; there’s nothing here to see.

Here is one of my favourite shots of me faking boldness. It’s from I Take the Big Plunge:

Actually, I wasn’t scared at any time. I spent so much time flying helicopters or sitting in the door with my legs dangling in the air that it didn’t worry me at all. The only thing that did frighten me a little was what Eunie would say when she saw the pictures. I didn’t tell her that I was going to do it. That was stupid, not bold.

It was one of the most thoroughly enjoyable experiences of my long and strangely wayward life. I highly recommend it. If I can get to Australia again someday, I’m going to take lessons with Ali and Dave in Toogoolawah. I have a standing invitation.

Okay, I give it to you. This is not bold according to the definition we’re using. It’s dumb. It’s from Why Ron and Eunie Were Nervous:

It did produce a nice “silky water” shot of Tew’s Falls in Hamilton, Ontario:

That one is from Silky Water – Hamilton’s Waterfalls.

While we’re on waterfalls, here I am boldly luxuriating in a jungle pool:

I call this my “Tarzan” shot. Aaaahhh eeeeee aaaaahhhh eeeee AAAAAHHHHH . . .

Getting there was the bold bit, for an old dude, anyway:

If memory serves me, it was about an eight hour slog up and down heavily jungled mountains which made my knees scream. Both of these shots are from I Go Bush.

The last three here are completely off the wall and are excellent examples of narcissism gone wild in a world where faking it can get you anything you want. You’ve seen a kaleidoscope image of this character recently. Getting this close to a Pseudobalistes flavimarginatus  is considered, with good reason, risky. Risky is not the same as bold:

Even the name is scary, eh? It’s a Yellowmargin Triggerfish. It will try to eat you if you hold still enough. This one is from The Beauty and the Beast.

Okay, this is crossing over into the stupid category. Check the teeth. Do not try this at home:

That one is from Sharks, Schmarks – Triggerfish are the Demons.

Just to show that I’ve not gone all Rambo now that I’ve taken boldness to heart, I’ll demonstrate my tenderness and sensitivity by showing you this lovely fake watercolour of The Fish Which Tried to Eat Me:

As the old mantra for crazy people goes, “Every day, in every way, I’m getting better.”

Gute Nacht.

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19 Responses to “Fortune Favours the Bold”

  1. Ron Barrons Says:

    Best picture ever I’ve seen of Tews Falls! I am glad I could captured the the capture. If we are lucky, whoops, I mean if we are dealt a good hand, we can do the water fall trip again.

  2. DogsDontPurr Says:

    I discovered your blog through Roz Savage, and started following you regularly just before Eunie passed. At around that same time, my husband had a heart attack..his second, with major complications. He is well now, recovering well. Thank God!

    But I must say, reading your blog, reading through your grieving process, and looking through your peaceful photos has helped me get through this time.

    From what I have read on your blog, I think Eunie would be happy that she is able to help me deal with my own situation just by reading the stories about her life and the love that you two had. Thank you!!

    (((Big Hugs)))


  3. kristy Says:

    applause! well said, and the triggerfish….maybe I do not want to go to PNG after all!

  4. Lori Witham Says:

    I dig it. Wow.

  5. MadDog Says:

    Ron, thanks for the complement on the Tew’s Falls image. I guess it was worth the risk, eh? Your shot of me defying gravity gives me the giggles. I will be coming to Hamilton in the 2nd quarter of next year. I’m not sure when – depends on money. I will be up for some more waterfall fun.

  6. MadDog Says:

    DogsDontPurr, any friend of Roz is a friend of mine.

    I suppose that you had a bad scare when your husband took a second hit. I think that you know that it’s no BS when I say that I can fully empathise with you on that one. What you say about my journal is very encouraging. Sometimes I wonder if there’s any purpose for it beside the therapy it provides for me – the catharsis, if you will. Well, now you’ve explained to me that it might have some more useful function, at least for some, at certain seasons of life. Thanks for that.

    I had a long browse of your blog. Highly amusing! Honestly, I can’t tell if you’re serious or not half the time. I count that as a plus – it keeps the mystery alive. Give me more. Give me graphics! I’m tempted to ask impertinent questions.

    Oh, by the way, I also have neuropathy in a couple of places – all of my toes, my right arm. The right arm thing is an old water-skiing incident, the toes – who knows? I am also a cat person, like you. I have owned approximately thirty cats. I would have one now, but the guard dog I need to stay alive here would eat it.

    Bless you, my strange friend. And yes, Eunie is happy that she was able to give you a hand when you needed it. You would have liked her.

    Hugs back at you, Marcie – MadDog

  7. MadDog Says:

    Oh, don’t worry, Kristy. I’ll keep the Triggerfish away. I’m much more dangerous than a Triggerfish.

  8. MadDog Says:

    Lori, I reckoned that you would. Thanks for saying so.

  9. Hans Says:

    If you actually flipped a coin heads 100 times…

    The Naive Gambler says: “It’s got to come up tails!”

    The Naive Scientist says: “It’s got to come up heads!”

    The experienced Gambler, or Scientist, checks the coin to see if it has a side with tails, and looks for magnets under the table, and then STILL assumes the coin-flipper is running a con-game and walks away.


  10. Laura Says:

    Hi, Jan!

    I, too, dig your exloration of luck and of being bold. What I’m wondering is what Eunie said when she saw the photos…

    Hans–my first thought was to check both sides of the coin, but I didn’t think to check for magnets!

  11. DogsDontPurr Says:


    Thanks for your reply to my comment….it was a great reply. Feel free to ask me any questions, impertinent or not.

    My own blog has been way too neglected. I went back and re~read my “100 Things” list, and realized I really should update that a bit..sometime. I’m being lazy right now!

    Keep in touch…and ask whatever you wish.


  12. MadDog Says:

    Hans, my clever son, you are, as usual, correct. See how many commas I got into that short little sentence! Maybe too many.

    I was going to put in a section about two headed coins and making money on bar bets, but the post was already too long.

    Clever as you are, you forgot one. Dr. Heisenberg would say, “It will come up both heads and tails simultaneously. We won’t know which it is until we look at it.”

    I’m glad that you are not a betting man. Me neither.

  13. MadDog Says:

    Laura, obviously my family members are more clever (or potentially devious) than I.

    As for your question, Eunie was not at all surprised. Left by myself in Cairns for a day with nothing to do, anything might happen.

  14. MadDog Says:

    DogsDon’tPurr (Marcie), It was my pleasure to send a hearty reply to an honest, revealing comment. I enjoy most my communications with those who, like me, are not afraid to open their hearts to inspection. Sometimes introspection is not enough. You have to have someone else take a look inside you and ask them what they see. Otherwise you’re in danger of falling into your own navel.

    I found your “hundred things” list very interesting. I’m thinking about doing one. I wonder what changes you have discovered.

    Most of my questions concern the content of your blog, which, by the way, you should not neglect. My questions might not be appropriate for a public forum, so I’ll leave it to you to initiate email contact if you like. My address is easy –


  15. DogsDontPurr Says:

    Hey MadDog~

    Regarding your reply to my reply, please feel free to ask away….no questions are inappropriate, nothing is off limits. I look forward to hearing what you ask.

    Take care~
    dogsdontpurr at diaryland dot com
    roxie at pacifier dot com

    Either email should get to me.

  16. Ali Says:

    A very risky business Jan.
    “Tyranosaurus Trigger” is an Ichthyological, Ortodontical nightmare indeed! Dig that fishy!
    Great free fall shot BTW. You managed to get away without the often photographed and rather interesting “face flapping” shot. ha ha ha.
    But there was no escaping the gravity induced Bart Simpson hair do tho…more ha ha ha
    Free-fall…what a HOOT !

    Do you remember the name of your tandem master?

  17. MadDog Says:

    Marcie, I’m going to get right on that. I saw your email earlier today.

  18. MadDog Says:

    Ali, that picture makes me giggle. Her name is Theresa. You can read the original post by clicking on the link to “I Take The Big Plunge”.

    Funny, I hadn’t noticed the face-flapping. What a gas!

    I have had the pee scared out of me several times by triggerfish. They are not to be fooled around with.

  19. Steven Goodheart Says:

    Jan, that has got to be one of the best, if not *the* best posts of deep musings about life and it challenges I’ve ever read on your or anyone’s site. Seriously, that was was a truly wonderful and deeply moving sharing with us all. All that you said rang so true—no BS, no sugar-coating, and yet at the same time, a great tenderness and compassion. (Certainly, as you indicate in the piece, you are still learning about that compassion for yourself as you struggle with the demons.)

    By now, given our mutual sharings and your respect for my path, I wanted to say that your discussion of “boldness” really resonated with many aspects of Buddhist teaching. Here’s just a little taste, from one of my favorite teachers:

    “The Buddha could have concluded his teaching career with some inspiring words on the bliss of nirvana or emptiness, but he didn’t. He ended with a piece of advice: “Achieve completion through appamada”. Common English translations of “through appamada” — such as “untiringly,” “earnestly,” “with diligence” — convey the notion of sustained, determined effort….”

    Is not this your boldness? Sure sounds like it! And with this boldness, this earnest diligence comes the understanding that that our actions really do make a difference, that the difference between causing and not causing suffering really does matter, and that the principles of skillful and unskillful action are patterned enough that we really can learn useful lessons from our mistakes.

    To live this way is indeed bold, and it’s what you are learning and doing, it seems to me. Thanks, dear friend, for sharing your journey with us.