“I have been clinging to this image, the thought that: “life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” When I think of this, I think of the millions of people who will never venture outside of their little zone.. whatever that may look like, and then I think of how I don’t feel like I’m “venturing outside”.. it’s more like I’m cliff diving…[But] I take “comfort” in the fact that I will see a little of the world, to cliff dive, and really learn to trust God.”
If you go visit my very-first-ever-two-paragraph-long blog post, that is the (slightly modified) quote you will find smack dab in the middle, and the image I posted along with it.. and I’m here to tell you that I was wrong.
Today I was sorting through suitcases and clothes and bags and shoes and all the crap I brought with me. (I am moving to another host family next month and trying to get slightly more organized before uprooting.) In the midst of shuffling this shirt here and those shoes there a single sheet of paper fell in front of me, filled with my hand printing. (That was intentional. For some reason my brain can’t make up it’s mind whether it wants to print or handwrite, hence: hand printing, where cursive and printing fell in love.)
Anyway, back to the paper. I’ve never been that good at journaling, but sometimes my thoughts get too big to keep in so I’ll scribble them down and they end up who knows where. Apparently this one followed me to Kenya. I picked it up and this what I read:
“I’ve been taking this philosophy course on metaphysics and for the last two weeks I’ve been studying these philosophers – some of the most brilliant minds to roam the earth, or so I’m told – whom all hold this despondent opinion that human life holds no value. We are but consequences of nature. We are accidents of evolution. Our lives are worthless because we are just specks on our planet, which is just a speck in our galaxy, which is only a speck in the universe.
I believe otherwise.
I believe we have meaning.
I see it everyday… I see it in the way a mother looks at her child, and how a child can emote so greatly from birth. I see it in our constant pursuit of beauty: we crave, create, and capture beauty in every conceivable form. I see it in my imagination, my capacity to dream, hope, and aspire. I believe in humanity’s goodness, just as I know our evil, but ultimately, I hold to the conviction of our potential for redemption and compassion. I see it in the way some devour knowledge, a constant, desperate, and insatiable curiosity. Why else do we continue to question our life’s purpose?
I believe meaning in life to be possible, but just as I believe in good and evil, I know life can be meaningless. This I witness in those who do much but accomplish nothing, or those who simply do nothing and seek no accomplishments.
Maybe there is or isn’t meaning in life, maybe there is or isn’t a God. But I think life will be richer if we pursue a meaningful existence, and it will be fuller if we seek God in doing so.
Maybe we are consequences of nature, but we may as well become beings of consequence, if that’s the case; furthermore, if I am nothing more than a consequence, then I want to be the best dang consequence to draw breath. I don’t want the universe to look down on me and think, “Oops. Look what I accidentally let come into existence.” No, that’s not good enough for me. If I’m going to be an accident, I want the whole earth to think, “Dirt,” (I was gonna say “Man” but is the expression “man” limited to humanity?) “look what we did!”
Maybe one human is insignificant, but this one human could become significant to another human (who is, unfortunately, equally as insignificant), but my thought is this, aren’t two insignificant beings twice the insignificance? My math has never been that good, but I say to heck with it all. Let’s just be meaningful to one another and call it a day.”
So apparently that was the thought process that I had to word vomit onto that poor piece of paper, but it got me thinking about some of the things I’ve been writing recently and then my mind got back to that comfort zones post and a little light bulb went off.
Here is the list of a few things that I consider most important in my life:
*loving my family
*being confident in myself
*thinking big thoughts
*enjoying myself every once in a while
*reading good literature frequently
That is my basically life, and if I’m consistently working my way through that list, I constitute it as a meaningful life, for me. Aside from reading, everything on that list is happening here in Kenya.. Just as it happened back at home, too. I don’t think my life began when I moved to Nairobi, I just think it changed. I don’t think I had to leave my comfort zone to discover my true self or my life or any other pseudo intellectual assumption you may have. (“They’re readers, Dad.” You’ve Got Mail, anyone?) I think there are two options with the “comfort zone” ideology: I think you either condemn it and romanticize the.. “other zone.” (What does a blogger such as I call the non-comfort zone?) Or you just complacently accept that the comfort zone is where you belong and where you will stay.
Excuse me, dear reader, but comfort zones are crap. Here, let me impart this great wisdom unto you: it’s all in your head.
You are comfortable where you make yourself comfortable. Edmonton was once uncomfortable, but then I made it home. The outside world, the big, bold non-comfort zone is a fallacy. It sounds exhilarating, it sounds daring, colourful, vivacious, and invigorating. But your comfort zone is someone else’s thrilling experience, and the outside world is just some Italian’s backyard, or a Kenyan’s matatu, or the Thai’s rice paddy field. Sort of like the Sherpas who lead people up and down Mt. Everest. To the outside hiker it’s Everest. To the Sherpa, its just another day in the life. Besides, isn’t someone who’s always going beyond their comfort zone more comfortable in the outside world? Wouldn’t that make the outside world their comfort zone? BOOM. Joke’s on you, comfort-zone-haters.
Every time I go on Pinterest I see all these quotes that are basically saying something along the lines of.. “YOUR LIFE SUCKS UNLESS YOU ONLY SHOWER ONCE A WEEK BECAUSE YOU’VE HIKED TO THE MIDDLE OF AUSTRALIA OR YOU JUMPED OFF A CLIFF YESTERDAY OR YOU THREW YOUR MAP OUT THE WINDOW AND GOT LOST IN PARIS OR YOU SWAM WITH SHARKS OR YOU… etcetera. Our society has chosen to obsess over this concept of the comfort zone, it seems, and whether or not your life can begin yet.. or if you should wait until your on a plane headed somewhere, and I call bull, guys. I’ve had multiple people tell me how brave I am or how much they envy me for “living on the edge” or whatever. It’s all very flattering, and this hasn’t exactly been a piece of cake, so I appreciate it, but why are we always measuring ourselves against each other?
Prior to moving to Kenya I believed in the comfort zone. I thought I needed to come to Kenya to discover myself, and what I discovered instead is that the ‘outside world’ is just another “the grass is greener..” scenario. I had to leave my comfort zone so that I could be content in it. Like, I see now, that in reality, my version of “living on the edge” is whether or not I’m going to splurge on three books even though I only have money for one. (Okay, in the realest of realities I can technically never afford books haha.) Frankly, in my opinion, a lot of the “on the edge” business is expensive, irresponsible, or impractical (or all three). I think I’ll keep travelling because travel is just as vibrant as they say. Cultures, ethnic foods, traditions – they’re all gorgeous and worth experiencing. But I don’t think travel should come at the expense of your home; I don’t think you should have to escape some supposedly horrid life to “really” live somewhere else.
School sucks. Working can be tiresome. Sometimes relationships seem more trouble than they’re worth.
There are people all over the world who feel the same way.. and whether or not we are living a meaningful life is independent of our location. If travelling is a must-have component to a meaningful existence for you, then get going, but be content when you get back home. Relish in the beautiful life all around you. In falling snowflakes and eyes brimming with tears, blooming daisies, music that sweeps you off your feet, golden sunrises, and laughter. If travelling doesn’t make the cut for you, don’t hold yourself back from your list just because it doesn’t look like everyone else’s. Don’t confine yourself to a comfort zone that doesn’t exist.
Life can meaningful if you make it so. Comfort zones can be traps if you let them be.
Love God, reach out to other people, see the little details, love the unlovely and the unlovable. Buy the person behind you a coffee, read a good book, laugh at yourself every once in a while. There are so many better ways to spend your everyday then wishing you could be living someone else’s Instagram account.
*much love & many blessings as always,