06/30/2014 12:12 pm ET Updated Jun 30, 2014

This Woman Was Told She Would Soon Go Blind. So She Joined Circus School

If doctors told you that you would soon lose your vision entirely and there was no treatment or cure available, what would you do? Would you fall into the depths of depression, or live life to its fullest by trying something truly “out there?”

Nicole Kear chose the latter when her doctors delivered that devastating news -- and proved it by enrolling in circus school. The author of Now I See You joined HuffPost Live host Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani to explain how this unconventional path brought her more happiness than she could have imagined in an otherwise tragic situation.

“I was an actress, I went to Yale, and my parents would joke, ‘This is what we are paying all this money for – for you to go to the Ivy League so you can learn how to be a clown?’” said Kear. “But under my theatre major, I took a class on clowning. I think it was called Post-Modern Clowning, but it really just meant Bozo the Clown, red-nose circus stuff, and I really fell in love with it.”

When Kear received an internship offer from the San Francisco School of Circus Arts, she jumped at the opportunity. She specialized in contortion, soared through the air on a flying trapeze, and felt nothing short of amazing.

“It’s funny to look back and try to understand what was the appeal for me,” she said. “I think it was just, the circus is such a free-wheeling place of celebration, and there’s a part of it where people just do things that are totally impossible. There’s a magic to it and a mythology. And I think that, especially in that point in my life, the idea that you could do these amazing, stupefying things that really defied the imagination was so alluring to me.”

For more on how a life-altering diagnosis inspired Kear to attend circus school, watch the full HuffPost Live clip in the video above.