Life is full of challenges. In the stories, “Breaking Through Uncertainty-Welcoming Adversity” and “Neighbours,” written by Jim McCormick and Lien Chao, the main characters illustrate benefits derived from taking risks. Even though both people in these texts undergo personal challenges, in “Neighbours” the character, Sally, receives greater benefits from taking risks than McCormick in “Breaking Through Uncertainty-Welcoming Adversity”. Fear is a part of life, however, how we face it is what makes each of us unique. In the story, “Breaking Through Uncertainty-Welcoming Adversity”, McCormick faces a fear of death. Although he is a very experienced jumper, one day, the lines of his parachute twisted and caused him to spiral down out of control. As he explains, “The twists in the lines caused my parachute to take on an asymmetrical shape […] The problem occurred when the turn quickly became a rapid, diving downward spiral that was spinning me a full 360 degrees about once every second” (7). On the other hand, the fear that Sally experiences in “Neighbours,” is not a physical fear of death, but rather a fear of another culture. Sally is a Chinese immigrant who fears not understanding Canadian culture and not fitting in.
For example, “Sally is not a Canadian, but she hopes one day she will be […]” (1). In addition, at the time, she feels “inadequate” (4) and “disorientated” (8) due to a lack of understanding. McCormick and Chao also present other situations that involve mental and emotional challenges. When McCormick realizes that his expertise would not be able to solve the problem, he has the challenge of accepting this fact, “Having successfully completed over 2100 jumps without having to resort to my second parachute, it was hard for me to believe I had really encountered a problem I could not solve” (7). Sometimes, being overconfident is harmful because it interferes with our ability to make the correct decision.
In the end, McCormick faces his “dragon” and overcomes his adversity, “The real dragon is the self-doubt we carry within us” (19). While McCormick’s success is admirable, he overcome his self-doubt and solves his problem, Sally receives greater advantages from taking the risk of being honest about her personal situation. Sally takes a big risk immigrating to Canada. She leaves her relatives, culture, and language behind in China. Sally meets a kind elderly couple, Elizabeth and Joe who invite her to their apartment for a cup of tea and watch the fireworks. They are generous and even offer her a free refurbished vacuum.