Monday, January 25, 2010

[I wrote this last May. I had the fears back then, but also an experience that got me started thinking differently.]

Three weeks ago I finally asked HP (Higher Power) to give me insights on what to do. Then, when we were traveling in Turkey, two of my fellow travelers talked about how retirement was for them. And last Monday our financial planner said we're funded for retirement to live about like we do now. Still, I've been so fearful about finances I woke up in the middle of the night and said, "She doesn't know what she's talking about." This financial planner has been working with us for 15 years and she knows us and she knows our numbers. Of course she knows what she's talking about!

Here's a story about fear. I have always been afraid of heights. I knew when we were in Turkey in April on a Rick Steves tour that there would be an opportunity to take a hot air balloon ride. I had no interest in that AT ALL. Then, on the plane between Seattle and Amsterdam, I watched Jim Carrey's movie "Yes Man", about this guy who had a boring life because he always said no. He went to a seminar about saying yes and decided to always say yes. Needless to say, he had funny, crazy things happen, but his life got much better.

So on the first day of the tour, our Turkish guide said, "If you're considering taking the balloon ride, sign up." So I signed up for me and my husband Art. Then, four days later, when we were in Cappadocia, the guide said, "The balloon guy will be downstairs tonight at 5, for those of you who want to sign up." Remembering Jim, I signed us up.

I thought in a hot air balloon you'd go up high and hang there in the sky for an hour, thinking about how far down you'd fall if you fell out, or if the balloon popped and you fell. That didn't appeal to me at all. But that's not how it works. You drift gently, silently up. Then over the countryside. The pilot has a LOT of control over the balloon. We were sometimes ten feet above lovely hillside fields, descended into valleys with fantastic geological formations and old cave houses and lifted quietly out of them. There were a couple of times when we were too high for my comfort, so I looked down at my feet during that time.

What I learned from this experience is that if I leave my job, or if I rely upon HP - in other words, if I say "yes", it's not going to be a high, terrifying flight - it's going to be full of possibilities for new exploration, for spending time on my interests and passions, for being of service. Maybe a part-time job, maybe volunteerism, maybe trading houses with another family for a year, maybe joining Americorps.

If I say "no", I get to stay on the ground and never change how I look at the world.

No comments: