When is the moment you say yes?
Yes, I’m going to hike the Himalayas.
Yes, I’m going to run the marathon.
Yes, I’m going back to law school at age 50.
When is it?
When is it that all of the “nos” fade out?
No, I’m too old.
No, I don’t have time.
No, I’m not smart enough, I’m too out of shape, I don’t have enough money.
When do all of the road blocks fall away and you say yes to that seedling of a dream in the chambers of your heart?
Well, I’ll tell you when it fell away for me.
The “yes” came for me sitting across the kitchen table from my husband and we asked each other the question, “What would you do if you had a year to live?”
The first thing that popped out of my mouth was “Travel.”
And I let myself wander into the fantasy. I’d travel in a Camper Van through the U.S. and go to the national parks.
I’d travel to Cuba and Rwanda and back to India.
Yes, definitely, I’d travel. I’d inhabit my free spirit wings and take to the road.
He followed up the question with a second one.
“And what’s stopping you?”
I was ready with all of my road blocks…
“Well, there’s you and the dogs. I can’t leave for so long. And my students and teaching. And, well, I have to figure out my business and how to make more money, not spend more. And I’m not really a camper. I grew up in the City.”
He just stared at me, silently challenging me. “Really?” His look said, “That’s all you’ve got?”
He pushed me some more.
“REALLY, what’s stopping you?”
“OK, OK,” I bantered with him. I knew this practice. He never lets me off the hook. After all, our vows when we got married were about helping each other become free – both internally and externally. The last three and a half years we’d been in a rock tumbler together, buffing off all of the bull shit of our personas, our fears, our triggers. We’d been polishing the mirror we looked.
“Ok, ok,” I began again.
“Fear! There are you happy!
Fear that I’ll spend all of my savings and won’t have money to retire. Fear that I will disappoint people – my students, people I’ve made commitments to. Fear that I won’t know what to do if the Van breaks down. Fear that I will get lost. Fear that I will be perceived as selfish and people won’t like me.
I could go on, but lets just say: FEAR.”
His lips turned up at the corners, just slightly into a wry smile. It was his “There. That’s the real answer look.” I knew it well.
“And if you get to the end of this life and you don’t do these things, how will you feel?” he posed.
All of the defensiveness melted out of my muscles and I sat there contemplating his question. What would happen if I never do this? Would I feel like I’ve lived MY life? Or would I feel like I’ve betrayed myself?
I knew the answer.
But could I take the steps to make it happen?
Despite the longing in my heart, all of the cells in my body twitched nervously. My mind spun like a hurricane….
But but but…
It feels selfish.
It feels scary.
Will people still love me?
If I don’t do anything “for” them?
Will I just be out there on my own? Being? And forgotten?
What if my Van breaks down?