This morning I found out the cause of death of a good friend and colleague of mine who died—suddenly, shockingly, perplexingly—about a year ago. Untreated diabetes. She had known about the diagnosis for some time, but had chosen not to treat it or share the news with anyone. What seemed like a stubborn refusal to face the truth, to acknowledge her fears, led to an untimely death that left her friends and family reeling.
The news shook me, lingered in the back of my mind even as I went about my day. It got me thinking about fear and loss: of life, love, dreams, passions. I thought about how my own fears hold me back from living a full and vibrant life, how I, in my own way, often allow fear to have the final word. I mulled over how easy it is to convince myself that what I fear is immovable and insurmountable, and how this belief leads to the loss of life.
The truth is, I want to be fearless, to go boldly where no one named Yuniya Khan has ever gone before, but…I’m afraid.
What would I do if I were fearless?
- I would tell my mother I love her, every day.
- I would pick up and move back to LA next week.
- For that matter, I would pick up and move to Brazil next week.
- Even better, I would leave everything behind and travel the world for a year.
- I would throw myself wholeheartedly—fearlessly—into writing, maybe making documentaries, and doing my part to make the world a better place, and I would find a way to make a living doing all these things.
- I would walk up to that guy and tell him, “You can justify things however you want, but you’re a fool to let a good thing—and a good woman(me)—slip away.”
- I would look my dream job employer in the eye and say, “Take a chance with me. You won’t regret it.”
- I would close up the office in the middle of the day and take some much-needed quiet time.
- I would get a dog. And a cat. Maybe two cats.
But I’m writing this from the safety of my comfort zone, comfortably situated on my couch. Nothing is stopping me from taking on any one of these items. And yet I can feel my Day of Reckoning fast approaching, when I will stand before the opportunity to make a fearless choice.
I can almost hear my friend whispering to me as I write. Choose life, she says. Always choose life. Give it all you’ve got. Don’t turn your back on fear; make fear your friend and go conquer the world together. And when things backfire, when you trip and fall, when someone hurts you or breaks your heart, get up and choose life again. You won’t regret it, I promise you.
Will I choose to be fearless?