How to … be cautious
Saturday September 9, 2006
Caution is shrinkwrapped fear. The quickest way to kill yourself on an escalator is to be too cautious. It’s the same in life generally, although with life you don’t have to carry dogs and stand to the right.
Caution is what happens when you follow your liver instead of your heart. It’s a nonstick emotional surface for the bad things that life throws at you. Sadly the good things that life occasionally throws don’t stick either.
Cautious people never put their eggs in one basket. Really cautious people make sure they have more than one basket, and also refuse to count their chickens, let alone their eggs. The net result of all this caution, ironically, is that you end up living life on eggshells.
There are two types of cautions. One warns of danger, such as, “Caution: vehicle reversing!” The other you get from the police when you reverse over someone.
Caution in love is fatal. It has much the same effect as deploying your parachute before you have left the aircraft. With love-making the opposite is true: it’s an excellent idea to deploy all sorts of precautions before moving a muscle.
Precautions are sensible steps you take when you’re feeling cautious. Postcautions are sensible steps you take after you’ve failed to be cautious. Postcautions are generally not as useful as precautions but do benefit from a more precise knowledge of what the danger was.
Cautious optimists are really pessimists having a good day. They’re clearly worried that something awful is still going to happen. Don’t even pretend to be optimistic if you can’t be boundless with it.
Children used to be educated through cautionary tales illustrating the catastrophic effects of walking through woods, sucking your thumb. Today we have advertising, which tells you how using anything from car insurance to bathroom cleaner can lead to unimaginable happiness. It’s not much of an education.
Cautious people are dull people. It’s a big generalisation and not for the cautious. Given a choice, most people want to take the risky path in life that says “Caution!” rather than the totally safe one. It’s a human thing and it’s the reason that one day the Nanny State will be hung from its own caution sign.