“Let’s do a hike!” she enthusiastically said. “Hmm….a what??” I thought.
We were supposed to go for a run but my running partner was changing the game plan at the last minute.
The alarm went off and I wasn’t sure what to expect – what do you wear, or eat before a hike – do you even eat?! Ask me that about my running routine and I can tell you the ritual without skipping a beat. When we arrived to our location the first thing that jumped out was the sunrise – the stunning emergence of an explosive orange ball of fire! To the west of us, there perched in the sky by a silver thread, was the moon -it was spectacular! As the group arrived the pleasantries were exchanged and off we went.
The first part of the path was manageable. We watched our steps as the grass crunched beneath our shoes. The conversations started to unfold and the selfies started to click away. I had never met most of these people but it’s funny when you are all in one place with a mutual interest how the colours of friendship begin to blend and pleasantries turn into full blown cackles and friendly banter. We started to scale the rocks and the altitude was climbing. I failed to mention to the group that I was afraid of heights. The guy leading the pack looked back and said, “You folks up for trying this way?” It was like a disclaimer of sorts and off on a tangent we went. There was no turning back now and up the cliff face we trekked. I swallowed.
As we reached the first landing I quickly sat on a rock, palms sweating and nails dug in to the salt laden surface….smile, I thought to myself, just smile…and breathe…now was not the time to pass out! Sitting there on that rock looking out over the sea I realized I was sitting there with my fear of heights in my lap. I was staring my fear in the face. Immediately a patient I was in contact with that week came to mind.
This patient had been thrown a curve ball in her plan to have a family. She had been advised that her best chance of success to have her family was to use donor eggs with IVF. She was struggling with this choice. Her struggle was now with the fact that to achieve her goal of having a family, she too would have to take a different path. The plan she had predetermined for her life was not going to schedule. In her world this decision was not going to be an ordinary run but a hike up a cliff! This choice was going to take her to unsure footing, it would mean she would need scale heights that she never knew existed but it also meant the possibility of having the family she so desperately wanted. As we talked that day in the office, she had loads of questions of what it meant to use donor eggs. The questions came like sparks flying and she had to digest it all. But she asked…she asked and asked. What struck me was the more questions she asked the more settled she became. By asking questions and getting the answers from the medical team, she was giving herself the knowledge to make the decision that was right for her and her partner. By asking questions, she was laying the brick work for what could be a new landscape on her journey of creating a family.
As I slid down the cliff to get back to flat ground the thought struck me. The truth is most of us have a blue print as to how we think our lives should unfold but sometimes life doesn’t always go according to that plan. To explore new options doesn’t mean the goal cannot be achieved, it just means that the route will be different to get to the end. Today I encourage you to face your fear and be brave enough to step out of your comfort zone and gain knowledge by asking questions. The path may not be easy but it just might be worth it! #startasking.