On my recent transatlantic flight from London to Toronto, I viewed The Vow. I instantly became engrossed in the story as I recalled how close I came to losing my husband, Ira. Just a couple of years ago, I stood over his lifeless body in a Denver emergency room. His future was uncertain.
Unlike the fictional characters, Paige and Leo, who survived a car accident on a snowy night, Ira endured a horrific ski accident on a steep Colorado slope.
Paige and Leo were newlyweds. Ira and I had been married for approximately 35 years. Even though our scenarios were different, the emotional upheaval of the initial hours after our respective accidents remained the same.
Would my husband survive? What would happen to our loving relationship?
Coming to grips with a dramatic and unexpected event left me shaken. How could I be enjoying the tranquility of the Rocky Mountains one second and then, a short time later, consent to my husband being placed in an induced coma? The “impact” of this moment made my innards wobble as I pondered the fragility of life.
As Ira passed through each stage of recovering from his traumatic brain injury and reconstructive shoulder surgery, I became increasingly aware of how fortunate we were. Far less severe accidents had resulted in long term and irrevocable physical and mental consequences. Miraculously, our family had skirted a brush with mortality.
Two conflicting feelings remained- immense gratitude and unrelenting uncertainty. The after effects of Ira’s traumatic injuries were minimal compared to the full spectrum of complications. I would be absolutely foolish if I did not acknowledge how lucky Ira was to recover from the induced coma. Nevertheless, the “impact” of this experience left me off balance as I attempted to move on with my life.
In Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance, Jonathan Fields discusses how varying levels of doubt are always present, yet an overabundance of uncertainty derails many from pursuing their intended goals. In a business related context, Jonathan stated, “The more you’re able to tolerate ambiguity and lean into the unknown, the more likely you’ll be able to dance with it long enough to come up with better solutions, ideas, and creations.”
This statement has universal application. By learning to cope with the vagaries of life and relinquishing the natural tendencies to be fearful, I became emotionally resilient to uncontrollable anxieties. The ever present sense of the unknown had to remain in check as I approached each step of my journey. Whenever I succumbed to the fear of not knowing where I was headed, I risked going off course.
Months later, fear prevailed as I vacillated between accepting a teaching position in Bangalore, India and remaining in my comfort zone of suburban life. Until reading Jonathan’s words, I was not aware how important it is to hold hands with uncertainty in order to gain an upper hand over one’s fears. I pushed aside my fears and wholeheartedly grasped uncertainty when I traveled to India in 2010.
Can you share an incident when uncertainty and/or fear affected your actions?
My memoir was a finalist in the Travel category for the 2013 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, the 2013 International Book Awards, and the 2013 National Indie Book Excellence Awards.