If one took no chances, one would not fly at all. Safety lies in the judgment of the chances one takes. That judgment, in turn, must rest upon one’s outlook on life. Any coward can sit in his home and criticize a pilot for flying into a mountain in fog. But I would rather, by far, die on a mountainside than in bed.
People with a grudge against the world are always dangerous. They seem to think life owes them something. I’ve known many who have suffered worse and been cut off from life much more…and they’ve managed to lead happy contented lives. It’s what’s in yourself that makes you happy or unhappy.
Among the many legends that surround the Nepalese Gurkhas of the British Army is the story of a paratroop regiment in the Second World War. The leader of the regiment asked for volunteers for a particularly dangerous drop behind enemy lines. About half the Gurkhas promptly stepped forward. The leader then went through what the volunteers would be asked to do. Halfway into his explanation, a surprised voice piped up from the back: "Oh, you mean we can use parachutes?" Every remaining Gurkha joined the volunteers.
To everyone's surprise, wildlife abounds in the deserted environs of the doomed [Chernobyl] nuclear plant. Elk, wild pigs, wolves, and rabbits all seem to be flourishing. These animals have somehow learned to cope with the high levels of radiation. Who knows, perhaps there are mutations: A pig that can climb. A rabbit with a prehensile tail. An elk with a unicorn's horn. Cells are quick-change artists. Life loves life. Humans may end, but the world won't.
We are impressed with nature's power, but by projecting upon this power an image of the feminine, the mother, we reassure ourselves — for surely a mother will always be loving toward us, continue to feed us, clothe us, and carry away our wastes, and never kill us, no matter how much toxic waste we put in the soil or how many CFCs in the ozone. The sense of nature as inexhaustible mother encourages us to feel there are no limits to a finite planet, while the sense of nature as benign and ever-loving mother permits us to continue disregarding a crescendo of warnings.