Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Stepping Out of the Shallows

As children, we were recklessly fearless.  Living mischievous lives of adventure, we'd seek out the unknown for the simple thrill of exploration.  Ignoring rules and disregarding safety empowered us to discover new things and overcome fears.  Along the path to adulthood, though, we start to lose some of that braveness.  Self-preservation is a learned behavior with suffering as it's teacher.  Each day's lessons draw us away from exploration and change, while reigning us back into our safe-zone, our comfort zone.

The tendency to fight against the current of change continues on, and, with all our strength, we push back against the waves of life, deceiving ourselves into believing we are harnessing them.  It's the way our brains are wired.

In our hearts, though, we yearn for change.  Happiness becomes an unreachable island, and though we may paddle toward it, at some point the inertia of the life's waves knock us down, hurling us right back to the actions we were trying to leave behind.  Nature has built into us the tendency to forgo the opportunities for meaningful change, insisting instead that we continue down the same weathered roads, which most often lead to nothing but regret.

Change is merciless; the unknown frightening.  So we oppose it, smothering the coals where the sparkle of new beginnings is trying desperately to ignite.  The work that comes along with monumental shift is arduous, tedious, and uncomfortable.

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.
-Neale Donald Walsch

With forceful resistance, we anchor ourselves to our comfort zone, and in the process attempt to numb the call to action.  We fill the void with anything that will fit, but at the end of the day, when we look around at all that we've amassed to silence the inner demons demanding change, we are left with little more than the emptiness we began with and a pile of baggage we've collected along the way.

This isn't the way true growth happens.  Growth comes from swimming against the current, from putting oneself in a place of discomfort, pain, fear, or uncertainty.  Learning to build ourselves up, to grow into new experiences, to alter our attitudes.  We may not be able to direct the tides of our lives, but we decide whether we will float into the unknown or drown trying to get back to shore.  Will we allow ourselves to be torn away from our comfort zones and embark on less-traveled, rocky, undiscovered shores?

Either you decide to stay in the shallow end of the pool, 
or you go out into the ocean.
-Christopher Reeve

Accepting and embracing life-altering change isn't easy, but swimming against the current never is.  Looking back nearly a decade after my personal evolution began, I am certain beyond measure that the pain of revolution is always worth what you get out of it.  I am a polished stone because of my trials, which have taught me to embrace newness, embrace change, embrace challenges.  I have welcomed change and made dramatic shifts in my life's trajectory, but I still carry around that visceral reaction to new experiences, the gut-wrenching fear of the unknown.  I expect that life will continue to pound this lesson into me for as long as I walk this Earth.  There will always be the lure of the safe, sandy shore up against the scary uncertainty of the sea.

There are always two choices.  Two paths to take.  
One is easy.  And its only reward is that it's easy.

For years now, I've felt a pull towards moving somewhere completely different than here, somewhere new with new landscapes, new people, a new city, a new way of life.  I've thought about it, talked about it, imagined what it might look like, envisioned uprooting my family and journeying blindly together into the unknown.

The excitement builds along with the worries, and after a few days, and the questions, concerns, reasons not to begin to flow in.  What about work?  What about our health challenges?  What if something bad happens and no one is around?  What if we don't like it?  What if?  What if?  What if?  In just a few moments with those couple words, all of the anticipation and hope of the transformations we will surely undergo as a result of this monumental change – that all vanishes and is replaced by doubts, which reassure us that this is where we need to be.  That the safety and comforts of home are too good to leave behind.

The beautiful things is that wherever I go, my true home goes with me.  Home isn't this place, it's the precious people in it.  We deserve to live a full life of adventures, missteps, obstacles, and triumphs.  We deserve to experience the beauty of different cultures, different ideologies, different backgrounds.  We deserve to discover and explore the big, beautiful masterpiece of this world.  I want the journey of my life to take me to unexpected places, to challenge me.  I want to feel the urge to resist change and fight through it to the other side, wading out past the shallows, where the serenity of new seas surely awaits me.

Be bold. When you embark for strange places, 
don't leave any of yourself safely on shore. 
Have the nerve to go into unexplored territory.
-Alan Alda

No comments:

Post a Comment

|| popular posts ||