A couple of weeks ago while I was waiting to catch a plane I noticed the woman near me reading a book. I am a book lover so I am always curious about what others are reading. So as I was craning my neck in an awkward way to find out, she looked up and caught me. So I outed myself as being bookish and asked what she was reading.
It turns out she is a cancer counselor at The James, the cancer hospital at The Ohio State University. She was reading a book about death and dying written by a hospice nurse.
That’s no small job or light-hearted read so she had my full attention. She began telling me about her work and how ultimately it’s about helping her patients face their fears. Her take on her work was intense and thought-provoking.
But then she told me she was headed to Georgia for airborne training during her last year of active duty in the Army. I almost had to shake my head in an effort to get all these pieces to fit. She already had two full lives that she was melding into one and from looking at her she couldn’t have been much into her 30s, if at all.
She gave me the brief run-down of what her training would entail and then I casually said, well, clearly, you are not afraid of heights.
Oh, but I am, she replied. I have some Xanax in my bag, she said, jokingly. Or not.
We talked some more about her training and I asked her why on Earth she’d sign up for jump school if she had a phobia of heights.
She said, every day in my job I ask people to do the very thing they are most afraid of. Shouldn’t I be willing to do the same?
Silence. Silence between us. Silence in my head.
Then I nodded my head and said, yes.
But, truthfully, most of us wouldn’t. Most of us wouldn’t even think of it that way.
Ironically, our conversation got started because I wanted to know what she was reading. And while she did tell me I cannot remember what she said. I think I was supposed to learn her story instead.
Sunshine & Sarcasm,
Lowi & G