Remona Aly
Thursday 18 November 2021 Pause for Thought, BBC Radio 2

Taking risks and rising high

Pause for Thought on BBC Radio 2, Zoe Ball Breakfast Show

Taking risks and rising high

I’m someone who’s always been afraid of heights, but last week I found myself three thousand feet high, in a hot air balloon with 16 strangers, feeling the wobble in my feet and a thump in my heart.

I’d finally managed to go on holiday to Cappadocia in Turkey, a region known for its otherworldly rock formations which resemble fairy chimneys.

My friend and I got up well before dawn had cracked, bleary eyed, excited, nervous, to make our way to a valley, where the hot air balloons looked like sleeping giants being stirred from their slumber.

I climbed, rather gracelessly, into the basket, anxiously uttered a ‘Bismillah’- ‘In the name of Allah’, and we began our ascent into the sky. There was no turning back.

The higher we went, the more I clutched my friend, but the sheer majesty of the landscape spread out beneath me, folded my fears into a new feeling of liberation.

I’d pushed myself out of my comfort zone – a place I have clung to throughout life.

Risk taking is not my forte, because it brims with uncertainty and potential pain. I’ve dodged the risk of rejection by never telling that guy I liked him, I’ve avoided the risk of failure, by not pitching an idea to an editor in case they won’t take it on.

Prophet Muhammad, when he first received the divine revelation in the year 610, felt fear too. He knew that the status quo of the oppressive, pagan Arab society he lived in, would make his mission nigh impossible. But he faced the uncertainty, and revolutionised the whole of society in 23 years.

A society is too big for me to take on, but I can start a revolution in me.

I believe fear, if tackled right, grows you. It expands your horizon, it helps you build up through each challenge. But first I need to break down the barriers in me.

The Persian, Sufi, female poet, Mahsati Ganjavi, knew this in the 12th century, “On this journey”, she wrote, “I found the problem to be myself. When I went beyond myself, the pathway finally opened.”

I’ll try to take risks more often, whether in hot air balloons or with my feet on the ground, I’ll turn fear into a key, opening myself to new adventures.