After Safety: Live Precariously

Inspired by Dorothy Day.

We have started to live by the mantra that Safety is a False Idol. Mike Rowe famously stated that safety should be third (vs. first). And no, this does not have anything to do with seatbelts and polycarbonate eyeglasses.

A hiking trail surrounded by greenery.

It goes back to the idea that NOBODY ever did anything exciting without taking a risk. Think of the people we revere in this world for big examples…or for the small ones, reflect on the most poignant moments in your own life…

Yet somehow, we skirt the idea of danger floating around ancillary ideas like “Intentional/Simple Living,” “Charity,” “Back to Nature,” “Adventure” etc….

When what we really mean is: “I just want a thrill ending in some satisfaction… darn it!”

If you’re anything like me, you’ve listened to countless podcasts, watched documentaries on Netflix, scoured the internet (on the clock and off) to find tips and tricks on Lifestyle Design with much of it going back to simplifying and intentionality. But what does the internet’s favorite lifestyle hashtag #livesimply even mean? Simplify? To what end?

For me, I think back to those middle school math years with Mr. Hoven yelling at us to SIMPLIFY the equation by combining like terms. After analyzing all household items, things have been pitched until only the lowest common denominator remains, having been combined with all similar items.

And it feels SO GOOD! Maybe you wear a uniform to work, so getting ready in the morning isn’t impossible. Or there are only 4 pans in your lazy Susan and she can finally rotate around.  But when all of these accomplishments wear off, what’s a girl to do with the opened bandwidth?

Annie stands looking at the distant moon with cat sitting nearby.

As everyone knows, creativity comes after the freed headspace. I think that most ideas lead to adventures. And adventures most definitely provide a purpose. 

Don’t deny that it’s human nature to crave purpose, heck, the desire for purpose is the main argument atheists have against organized religion!

In the Catholic Worker world, I look to Dorothy Day, who was the founder of the Catholic Worker newspaper and movement, spending her life devoted to living in poverty and helping the poor. Her life is an example of living beyond simplicity, she lived precariously or without fear that money wouldn’t enter the bank account in the future. By shedding the weight-of-money anxiety, there’s space to write that novel that changes the world or open that shelter helping those in need.

Living precariously is setting your priorities straight, developing concrete values, and realizing that whatever adventure is next, precarious or not- it could work out (and if it doesn’t, that’s alright, too).

This attitude is not limited to living below one’s financial means, it could also be heading on precarious outdoor adventures. IE walking upriver without a map, leaving the spare pair of shoes behind, or canoeing in the rain. A precarious adventurer is confident that the river will lead you back to the car, the shoes you’re wearing will be fine, and only one in every 15,000 people are struck by lightning in their lifetime (

With safety third in mind, fill this summer with precarious risks. That’s where the true experience resides.

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This post was written by Annie Schmitz, May 2021.

Annie squats holding a calf with her mom nearby.

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