I Put An Axe In My Toe

Differentiating Risk

Over the years I have come to really appreciate the Canadian wilderness, from canoeing camp trips up the French River to rocky Georgian Bay boat rips I’ve had many great adventures with many great friends.

As you progress along the expensive and “geeky” journey that is tool/gadget accumulation you begin to fall in love with sharp inanimate objects. Some even sleep next to them. A nice outdoors hatchet/axe will become one of your favorite tools and allow you to up your bush-craft game to the next level.

Over the weekend some friends and I did a trip to a beautiful spot in Georgian Bay called Franklin Island (45°23’19.0″N 80°19’48.0″W), about 45 minutes of boating from Parry Sound.

Parry Sound Rip to Fanklin

While processing some dead fallen trees for our fire I decided to grab my buddy’s brand new Browning Outdoorsman axe and give it a go. It has a longer handle and a smaller head angle than what I’m used to, a good weight and it bites deep into wood.

Anyways, despite being the guy who always says to be careful and not “put the axe in your shin”, on one of my swings it bounced out of the log and the axe came down into my big toe. I was wearing Birkenstock open toe shoes, and the gravity alone put a nice chop across the front of my toe. The cut was as clean as it gets, and all it took was some iso pads and bandaging to fix it up.

Now, you might ask yourself why I would possibly want to write about this and expose my stupidity to the world. Well, as Monday morning came and I redirected my attention from mosquitoes to risk exposure I realized that there may be a parallel to draw.

Risk is an interesting thing, it can take the form of losing dollars or losing toes. Its important to distinguish and identify what risks you’re willing to take in life, and which ones you shouldn’t. I am a firm believer that you should take as much risk as possible when you’re young, and while you have limited responsibility. Now, I’m not advocating for lumber processing with open toe shoes, I’m talking about the risks that don’t leave you bloody and annoyed.

I’m talking about starting a new business venture, moving across the world, and of course taking calculated financial risks. The reality is that what limits us the most is our own self, our fear of uncertainty and the possibility of failure. So push yourself to take that uncomfortable risk and learn something valuable.

We tend to overemphasize the downsides when we think about doing something uncomfortable, but the truth is that even if the worst did happen we would still be fine. We might fall on our face and look like a fool but when we get up we will be stronger and more resilient than before.

So here are the takeaways:

  • Learn to differentiate risk: some risks have real downsides, like hurting yourself physically. While others are more painful to the ego, but actually allow you to grow.
  • Take more risk that allows you to grow and take less risk that might actually hurt you: get comfortable being uncomfortable.
  • When you buy a sharp toy also buy a med pack.

I’m very lucky to have the friends and privileges that I do, my toe will be fine and I will be back to chopping very soon.

I will always be happy to pay my tuition and learn my lesson. I can guarantee you that I won’t ever put an axe in my toe again, and hopefully neither will anyone who reads this.

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