“It is the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting” Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
In May 2015, I pursued one of my many dreams and travelled to India. This dream seemed obscure and therefore unattainable. I knew that going to India would be an amazing experience, and, it also scared the hell out of me. I had never even travelled to Europe, not England, not Rome, not even Ireland where my ancestors originated. Taking one of those trips seemed more conventional and mainstream. On the contrary, India seemed so alchemistic to me. I felt as if I didn’t “go for it” at that moment, I would never collect the courage needed to complete this journey and satisfy my curiosity. Often, my curiosity grew when I sensed the experience would be difficult to achieve, transforming it into a personal challenge. I was aware of one thing that often kept me awake at night, I wanted to live fully, challenge myself and be happy.
“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” Albert Einstein
It all began after selling my business two years prior. My life seemed new and exciting, and open to many possibilities. I had spent the last twelve years wrapped up in doing and I had lost sight of just being. What would I do with my one precious life? Would I go back to school, start another business, or travel… I spent numerous months reflecting on the many opportunities that lie ahead. That is when I decided to travel and explore. When I first mentioned the idea to my husband, he laughed and said, “I’m not going to India!” and then he looked at me with a questionable glance as to test my revelation. “You are not going to India, are you?” he replied after realizing that my gaze had not changed and that I meant business. “Yes, I am,” I said enthusiastically with a twinge of query inflection in my tone. “And how about I take Maggie with me?” (Maggie is our middle daughter, who was to graduate High school two months later) “She wants to study International Relations, and this trip will be perfect for her and it would make a great graduation gift as well”. It was at that moment that my subconscious fears were echoed in my husband’s response to this proposal. “That’s not safe, and you are crazy to want to go to India right now” Being that safety was also on the list of things that kept me awake at night, I immediately rescinded my proposal and changed the subject.
Leaning into my fears; rational and irrational
“The opposite of certainty is faith” Anne Lamott
As the weeks progressed and I hadn’t, I became agitated that I allowed my fears to get the best of me. Anything worth doing has a bit of fear attached to it, right? Why was travelling to India dangerous? Was it really? I viewed India as a peaceful country, one of acceptance and spiritual in nature. Sure there was risk of disease, but that’s what preventative booster shots were for. Obviously danger is everywhere, and depending on your awareness that risk diminishes as a result. The tape that played over and over in my head, found ways to corroborate my fears both rational and irrational. My rational fears included items such as money, distance, and the unknown. I realize that the unknown, seems more irrational, however, the unknown, has been the one fear that has held me back over and over again throughout my life, and it appeared to be very rational to me.
One week prior to our departure the region experienced a disastrous earthquake in Nepal. Our destination was in northern India, the closest geographical location to Nepal, divided by the Himalayan mountain range. Another example of how an irrational fear of the unknown, quickly became very rational to me. To top these fears off, anyone and everyone who knew about our impending journey provided further concerns and unwanted advice. These concerns provided nourishment for my fears to grow and flourish. What was I thinking, travelling over 7,000 miles across the globe to a region that had just experienced a natural disaster? The media flashed images morning, noon and night of the devastation and showed people trying to flee the area. If my rational fears weren’t enough to deter me, they were the foundation that my irrational fears built upon. What if they experience more earthquakes? What if I am unable to leave the country due to the masses of people trying to exit the region? Am I being irresponsible? What about the water... The inner banter was extremely exhausting. The easy response would be to cancel my flight and let go of my dream. With this option, I would act as I had always acted, and run away from my growing fears. The other choice was to lean into my fears and bring perspective to the situation. My fears were based on the unknown, the what if’s. In putting my fears under a magnifying glass, I realized that they were based on others perceptions and my own judgements which materialized without factual information. Here is where my conscious shift occurred.
“How will you know it’s the right decision if you never make it?” unknown
The dream outweighed my fears. I did not want to live my life in the safe box I had built. Historically, change had always been good for me. Change lead to creativity, wonder, and each time I resisted my fears and chose courage, my life became richer and more meaningful. The thoughts that kept me awake at night were based on not living fully and choosing happiness.
I chose to write about this experience, because it has become a significant event, that I can point to as a major life shift. I use it as a marker….before my trip to India, and after my trip to India. I experienced a major aha moment or a shift in consciousness that forever changed my life. Today, I continue to work on my own fears and I now coach others to overcome theirs. Life is funny, when you listen to the whispers and follow your calling life becomes richer. I’ve learned to get out of my head and move into my heart, and that has made all the difference.
“Those who don’t jump will never fly” Leena Ahmad Almashat