What, he wonders, will he miss if he isn't willing to find out? For him, the thrill of the chase is just too good to pass up.
He's the opposite of risk-averse. Call it risk-addicted.
The risk of doing heroin at a rest stop on the Garden State Parkway while starring in an HBO series.
The risk of not showing up for court after being charged with heroin possession.
The risk of cheating on his girlfriend with 11 strippers in Las Vegas.
"What if?" just isn't something he said he ever wanted to face, so he went all in.
This premise goes a long way to explain why Lange's behavior, characterized by decades of drug addiction, can seem so self-destructive.
But Lange, now approaching his 51st birthday, didn't expect to make it to 25. Today he says his fading health has him determined to stay alive.
"I get nervous now, because now I wanna live," he says, speaking to NJ Advance Media on July 17 for the release of his latest memoir, "Wanna Bet? A Degenerate Gambler's Guide to Living on the Edge" (St. Martin's Press).
"Now I do care about it, and I think that maybe I've done too much damage," Lange says.
But there was that one risk that paid off big time — the risk, in 1991, of leaving the safety of his $70K longshoreman job at Port Newark to try making it as a comedian.