I watched the family as they stood near the roller coaster ride. Each one bore different look. The teenage son looked at the cars coasting around with glee; he was just waiting, I could make out for his share of fun; the mother looked a little worried and the father was grinning till he saw his small daughter crying.

"What's wrong?" he asked and I strained my ears to hear the conversation.

"I'm afraid dad!" she said, "I don't want to get on the roller coaster!"

"Sissy!" cried the teenage brother.

"Don't be a spoil sport!" said the worried mother.

The cars were slowing down as I saw the father take the little girls hand, "Go for it!" he said with an impish smile, "go for it, even if you're scared! Then one day you'll laugh and tell everyone how you were afraid but went for it!"

The little one gave a nervous grin, but stepped into her car. I heard her screams as the cars went twirling; but they were screams of joy!

Columnist Dave Barry says this about his father: "My dad ... he'd try anything -- carpentry, electrical wiring, plumbing, roofing. From watching him, I learned a lesson that still applies to my life today: No matter how difficult a task may seem, if you're not afraid to try it, you can do it. And when you're done, it will leak." (And then you'll pay somebody even more to fix it than if you'd called him in the first place.)

But I learned from my parents the value of "going for it." "Nothing ventured, nothing lost," is the motto of too many of us. Many people are so afraid to fail that they never venture beyond the familiar. "Better to be safe than sorry" has trapped too many unhappy people in the cocoon of their comfort zones.

A delightful story tells that Col. Robert Johnson of Salem, New Jersey, announced that he would take a public risk. He let the town know that he would eat a wolf peach on the steps of the county courthouse at noon on September 26, 1820. "Why would he take such a chance?" asked bewildered townsfolk.

Scientists and doctors had long proclaimed the wolf peach, also called the Jerusalem Apple and the Love Apple, as poisonous. Col. Johnson was warned that he would foam and froth at the mouth. If the wolf peach was too ripe and warmed by the sun, they told him he would be exposing himself to brain fever. Should he somehow survive the experience, the skin of the fruit would stick to the lining of his stomach and eventually cause cancer.

A crowd of 2,000 friends and neighbors jammed the square to see

Col. Johnson eat the "poisonous" fruit and he ate it; what we now call   -- the tomato..!

Col. Johnson believed his risk was small, but must be taken if myths about the fruit were to be dispelled. Who has not accomplished anything worthwhile without taking some chance?

"Behold the turtle," says James Conant. "He makes progress only

when he sticks his neck out..!"

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