There are times when other people advise against, or even oppose, actions one wants to take. The ideas of being prudent and satisfying oneself, then, are in conflict.
Who would willingly allow himself to be near the dangerous eye wall of a hurricane?
In 1985, I rented an apartment in a large frame house built in 1881 in Ocean Grove, N.J. My work kept me near there for more than a year. It was a lovely spot - an hour north by train to Manhattan (where Sally and I would visit), south by car to Cape May, and west to Revolutionary War battle grounds at Monmouth, Princeton and Trenton.
A hurricane was working its way up the Atlantic coast. The media descriptions of the storm provided considerable detail. A point was made that a hurricane's low pressure winds rotate in a counter-clockwise direction. The most severe part of the storm's perimeter is at the 3 o'clock point of the rotation. The storm was expected to affect the shore communities, but the eye would be some miles east, out to sea.
The evening before the storm was to arrive, I fell into conversation with an older couple walking along the beach. They had lived on the shore for years. I told them of my inclination to stay in my ocean-view apartment during the storm to observe the activity. What did they think about that? They said they usually stay, too, but there are always risks in doing so. I pointed to my house and apartment windows on the second floor. Their assessment was, that house, being a very substantially built Victorian, had probably weathered 20 hurricanes, maybe more. "The authorities are only urging residents to evacuate. It's your call," they said.
They asked, however, where my car was parked. I pointed to it at the side of my building, perpendicular to the beach. They recommended it be moved further inland to a street parallel to the beach. "The houses will protect your vehicle. Otherwise the winds are likely to pick up the sand from the beach and may blast the paint off your car."
I moved the car several blocks back and criss-crossed my apartment windows with masking tape. I also packed my carry-on bag for a quick departure.
At sun-up, the hurricane had already struck, the waves crashing against a concrete storm wall, spewing spray high into the air, the wind blowing sand inland across the surface of the landscape. The boardwalk was wobbling and some boards had already been dislodged. A lengthy pole-constructed fishing pier was dancing in the wind while still holding its form.
Unbelievably, three surf boarders were skimming the roiling wave tops with abandon.
The excitement was literally "in your face" and worth it. I learned later in the day I couldn't have left because of downed trees over the roads.
Some years earlier, there was a questionable sky sailing experience. The opening line in a letter from my father-in-law read, "Have you two taken complete leave of your senses?" He wrote this after learning Sally and I were taking sail plane lessons. He, a civil engineer undergraduate, mellowed when we explained that the lift to fall ratio for even a training glider is 19 to 1 compared to a probable 3 to 1 ratio for a stalled commercial airliner. Lift to fall means the number of feet traveled forward in comparison to downward decent. High performance sail planes have a 30 to 1 ratio. Later, Dad acquiesced.
Much earlier there was an experience in a sixth grade cloak room. While waiting to enter the classroom, a bully jabbed me repeatedly in the back. I asked him several times to stop. He continued, adding some unpleasant remarks. I made a fist, pivoted around and punched the bully in the belly. He didn't bother me again. The teacher, fortunately for me, never knew of the event. During my developmental years, my father had counseled me to stand up for myself. I have since learned the fine difference between individual dignity and following rules.
Life has its cross currents for individual and social issues. In these instances, I may have been imprudent, but I satisfied myself, and it worked out fine.