In an unintended effort to find numerous and varied ways to waste even more time on my computer, I have entered into the world of Pinterest. I shall now ask forgiveness from my friends who are sincere about unstrapping themselves from the lure of media screens. Sheepishly, I would say to these friends that I am using this latest social media obsession for good: pinning healthy recipes, free trade products, quotes, and photos from around the world. But I know what they’re thinking: addicts justify. And that is true, so I’m limiting my pinning time to between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. And maybe 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Early mornings are pretty good too, but I’m feeling guilty enough to eliminate the 7 to 7:30 a.m. slot. See? I’m aware of my problem. However, I found a wonderful quote on someone else’s board that I repinned and it is the subject of this post. So even if no real good comes from it, Pinterest has reminded me of this:
This is not a revelatory statement for me. I’ve been giving it lip service for decades. The only problem is, I like comfort zones. Of course, I would never readily admit this, but I spend an inordinate amount of time working to make myself and the people that I love incredibly comfortable. Every day and in a hundred ways I’m creating safe places for me and mine. I fluff our stuff, organize my days, line the ducks into neat and straight rows, gather more junk, and surround myself with the illusion that my world is safe and secure. I struggle mightily against anything that might cause the boat to rock. Oh yes, I take a few risks here and there, but they’re safe risks. Nothing too out there.
Then, inevitably something happens and I’m tossed out of the boat and into deep waters that are far beyond my zone. It’s frightening, intimidating, and supremely uncomfortable. I’m treading water, praying, sputtering, cursing, and desperately trying to find my way back to safety. My heart is racing and suddenly I realize that in the midst of all this I feel completely and beautifully alive.
This has happened many times in my life, which makes me wonder why I keep running back to the comfort zone. It’s dull there. The colors are gray. The voices are muted. The air is thick and sluggish. I posted the banner photo above because I want to remind myself how wonderful it feels to be uncomfortable and alive. These are places I grow and become the person I was created to be. That will never happen when I’m playing it safe. A few times in my life I’ve taken the initiative to step into these uncomfortable places instead of being thrown into them. Which is how some friends and I ended up doing makeovers on female patients in a psychiatric hospital in the middle of Azerbaijan. Our bright idea landed us in a situation of language barriers, confusion over the purpose of the make-up, and 50 women who were overly excited at the sight of a camera. Their idea of what was about to happen and our plan of what was going to happen seemed to be moving in two different directions. Our translator couldn’t keep up. It was confusion and chaos. And I loved every moment of it.
You can real the full story here – not written in blog-post format, but in magazine format (i.e. longer and more journalistic in style, so you might want to settle in). I write to bring experiences into fuller expression, but I also write to remind myself of things easily forgotten: life begins at the end of my comfort zone.