Paris and Beyond

Our Personal Tour de France & Other Exciting Adventures!

On the Brink


Niagara Falls 2003

Sometimes life presents challenges you didn’t expect — challenges you didn’t sign up for. If you’re a control type person, someone who thinks things out and plans all the time like me, you’re thinking, “No way was that on my list!” You’re even indignant about it because, after all, you are supposed to be the one who’s in control. Right? Well, apparently, not all the time.

Fortunately in my life, I haven’t had too many traumatic, unexpected experiences, but I have had a few. Getting divorced… yep, didn’t plan for that. Finding out my daughter got married and didn’t tell us… uh, not in my ideal life picture. And now, getting terribly sick to such a degree that I am very limited in what I can do until I get some answers and solve the problem. I can tell you that was definitely not part of my plan. These kinds of things can push you to the brink. How you handle them can make all the difference in whether or not you are going over the edge.

The way I see it, you have two choices. Either give in and succumb to whatever comes next, or take charge and take control back. This, of course, is easier said than done. At the onset of the traumatic event, you don’t always make the right choices. It can be sad or scary or both and typically you just react with your gut feelings. Nothing wrong with that necessarily. We all have emotions and they are bound to drag us around from time to time. But once you get your wits about you a little, can distance yourself from the situation and reflect, you can at least try to see alternatives.

In my mind, I imagine something like standing on the edge of Niagara Falls as a metaphor for being on the brink. I realize that the inevitable prospect of going over the edge is actually worse than facing the challenge itself. So if I can just turn around and face it, deal with it in some logical way, I can get through it and it won’t be so bad. I am always impatient and I know it will take time, but eventually I resolve to do it… because being on the brink just doesn’t feel very good.

If you handle your challenging circumstances carefully, you might even learn or try something new that you never would have envisioned for yourself. This is the case with my current situation. At first, I was just really scared. I thought it was the end. Then I sort of peacefully resigned myself to the possibility of it being the end. Finally, I decided it just wasn’t time for the end. I came to the conclusion that in some way I had to get my mind right. I just had to figure out how to do this. The realization is easy, doing it is another thing altogether. When this all started five weeks ago, my anxiety was heighten by having to communicate as accurately as possible in French regarding my health and having to face all kinds of invasive tests some of which like an MRI played right into my irrational claustrophobic fears. The reality was and is that I have to deal with these things to get past this challenging time in my life and move forward.

I realize this doesn’t sound very much like a topic for “Paris and Beyond”. The “beyond” has always been intended as a physical place. However, I think a mental or spiritual place could be implied as well. Some have referred to my current situation as a “journey” so I suppose I could see it as a different kind of travel — traveling through my life to a new and better place. Since there are a certain number of readers following this journey, I thought I would continue with the next few chapters so as not to leave anyone hanging. Because, of course, we wouldn’t want that! 

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