A friend of mine who enjoyed chalking wrote this at a bus stop a few years back while he was waiting for a bus. It stayed with me as I know how dangerous that comfort zone is and see so many of us in it. I’ve always enjoyed stepping out of it and never once regretted it. There are times when I am glad I am back, but never ever glad of staying too long in it.
A few years back, in the midst of a very unhappy time I wanted to get out to the Eastern Sierra’s, where I’ve always felt an amazing presence and joy. I kept procrastinating until dark and was about to change my mind, but I finally forced myself into it. I love the drive by day as the 395 freeway is something to behold when you get up to Lone Pine as you are flanked by the Sierra’s on one side and the Inyo mountains on the other. That is usually my pay off on that drive as it comes in the last few hours. It is a majestic view that is very hard to match and for me to give that up and drive by night was not something I was excited about.
However, while driving in the Mojave, it started raining and then I ran into a big thunderstorm. At first I was fearful but then the sheer power of the thunder snapped me back into life. Here I was, wanting to stay home and lazy and this effort in getting my ass into the car out of my comfortable space was rewarded with a natural force that quite simply woke me back up to life.
Another time, while forcing myself to get out on a hike, I met a hiker walking the Pacific Coast Trail in Bishop and then another two who were doing the Tom Muir Trail. They were all in need of a ride down to town and I was the only one with a car. We ended up having a great conversation and then a fantastic dinner. Nothing more and I never saw or heard from them again, but it was serendipity at its best.
Another time, while I was doing some street photography, I met a man living in the streets. We walked and talked, laughed a bit and I even got some good advise. All the time, before getting out, I thought I’ll be all alone and have to drive far and whatever excuse I could find to pile up, only to have myself challenged and become a little bit more educated and my spirits lifted triple fold. The funny part was the guy who started talking to me as he passed asked me “Why do you look so pissed about?”, to which I replied “Really? I am actually happy, I am doing what I love” and he said “It sure don’t look like it”, which made us both laugh and began a pleasant walk and talk.
There has been many times ranging from small trips to city bars to meetup groups. Not all are as magnetic, but you can’t regret something that is out of the ordinary as long as its semi healthy! As the picture above shows, there really is magic when you start experiencing the unexpected, but don’t seek permanence and flow with it. In my case, it has been un-regrettable, but if I had one escaped into drugs or drank too much during these exertions to find a bit of confidence for the unknown, it would have changed the dynamics and I would have never tried it again.
Comfort zone is a great place to have, as it give you the shelter and stability, but its not a permanent residence and it will do nothing but make you stagnant in life. Challenge yourself to at least one outing per month and start off small, but don’t make it too small. Maybe have a criteria, such as meet new people or learn something new. Volunteer possibly or join a group on a hike you always wanted to do.
Don’t let that invisible coat of comfort envelope you and its weight strain your movements. Push it off and try something totally new and experience the other zone!
Have a great one and enjoy your day.