Monday, October 25, 2010

Beyond the Comfort Zone


Welcome back dear readers.

I hope everyone had a fabulous weekend. Yesterday, amid a whirl of laundry, cooking, baking, cleaning, and writing, I suddenly remembered that I had a long overdue date with a dear friend. We had plans to have dinner and see a movie, and I had...oh, thirty minutes left to get ready. Due to my busy schedule, I was still in my pajamas and in desperate need of a shower. My shriek of remembrance echoed through the house, and The Boy raced downstairs to take over clean-up duties while I rushed off to make myself presentable.

Somehow I managed to be ready by the time my friend arrived, and we enjoyed a nice dinner (mmm, lobster clubhouse) before heading to the local cheapie theater to see Eat, Pray, Love.

This movie interested me, not only because I've read the book twice (love the Italian section, the Indian one not so much), but also because its author Elizabeth Gilbert is one of those people I admire and envy at the same time.

For those of you who don't know, Gilbert wakes up in the middle of the night with an existential crisis. She can't be married any longer. She can't continue to live the life she is living. In the midst of complete and total despair, she finds the strength to leave her comfort zone behind and spend four months each in three different countries: Italy, India, and Indonesia. Her plan is to learn to embrace life and enjoy it to its fullest with the Italians, to learn how to pray with the Indians, and to learn everything she can about the meaning of life with a medicine man in Indonesia.

It takes a lot of guts to leave everything you know behind, even when it isn't working for you anymore. I've wanted to move for years, to be closer to the water and live somewhere I'll never be cold, but I can't seem to do it without a safety net. However, as someone wise once told me, when you leap, the net appears. Or, put another way, fortune favors the bold. Things just seem to work out for people who take big risks, perhaps because they have to work out.

My friend Lisa once sold everything she owned and moved halfway across the country for love. Another friend, Kelly, gave up her home, her car, and even her beloved dogs for the chance to live a completely different kind of life in Africa. And now Brent--one of the members of our little writing group--is leaving to pursue an acting career in Vancouver. As I watch the trails they're blazing, I'm inspired and awed by their courage.

I hope I'll have the guts to follow in their footsteps one day.

How about you, dear readers? When was the last time you stepped outside your comfort zone? What was it like? Would you do it again?

6 comments:

  1. Excellent post! I left it all behind to move to Manitoba back in 2003 - for love! It was a real move outside my own comfort zone but it did show me I could do it, and I've been challenging comfort zones ever since.

    Would I do it again? Yup! I'd move to the Yukon, I'd move to Nova Scotia, I'd change careers (again!) and I'd learn and relearn.

    I'm inspired when people choose to leave their comfort zones behind - whether that means moving across the country or opening their lives to something totally new right where they are at.

    Sometimes the comfort zone is a belief, a state of mind or an actual physical place that can grow and be challenged.

    Don't forget what John Wayne said about courage: Courage is being afraid but saddling up anyway!

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  2. I love eat pray love -- haven't seen the movie yet but will -- I've often said it is the story of my life. Landed in the volatile needy "relationship" after my marriage and then even dated the guy 17 years older than me after that.

    I actually didn't mind the India section. She says some important things in there and she admits to some painful stuff. I don't know if I buy the whole Yoga thing but there is so much more than that.

    It bothers me when I hear people speak of that book and say she is "self absorbed". (May I add, what writer ISN'T self absorbed to some degree). These are people that likely don't ever step out of their comfort zone.

    I haven't done anything gigantic enough like pick up and move but I try and do small things.
    1. Try that bike downhill I fell on again. Get back up and do another lap.
    2. Go for that 200 km ride and stay with those fast guys.
    3. Tell people how I feel about them even if it might make them uncomfortable.

    I don't know that I've found my grove yet, but I'm working on it. Thankfully I didn't have to go to Italy, India and Indonesia to find it.

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  3. It's really funny how when I saw the title of your post I thought, damn I don't think I have ever done anything like that. Then as I read on I remembered that this is exactly what I did 3 years ago:
    I left my entire family and friends, my culture, my language, my potential career, to move here to Canada to be with my love. And it has been so worth it.

    By the way, how did you do on the "Get rid off..." competition?

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  4. @ MM - great comment! Your bravery is inspiring. Doesn't sound like you're destined to find yourself in a rut anytime soon.

    @ Kim - I didn't find her self-absorbed, per se--it's a memoir, after all. It's supposed to be about her! But I did find the India part a little boring after awhile. There's only so long I can read about someone learning to meditate.

    @ Zsanett - Of COURSE you stepped out of your comfort zone! I'm glad it's paid off for you. Just look at how brave you were to try sponge hockey without any medical insurance. :)

    Re: Get rid of Me - I didn't win, but that's okay. There will be other opportunities! I ended up with over 2,200 votes.

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  5. Amidst the many phrases printed on the Lululemon bag I take my lunch in is this sentence: “Do one thing a day that scares you.”To me, this embodies taking things outside my comfort zone. Although I am not able to do this on a daily basis I do try to push my boundaries from time to time. Each time I get on my mountain bike and hit some technical single track, each time I jump on my commuter bike and ride through city traffic, each time I’m assigned to work in a classroom where I’m not 100% familiar with the course material, each time I speak up in a room full of virtual strangers. Each of these things scares me, and I do them for varying reasons.
    But two BIG things/decisions in my life that took me completely out of, and likely into orbit around, my comfort zones were: 1) moving to Winnipeg in 1989 without a job or base of friends upon which to rely. Sink or swim – I swam and 2) leaving my marriage of 12 years. It would have been so much easier to stay in that relationship forever and just exist, but I decided that living my short life to its fullest potential, no matter how freaking scary it would be to start, was worth the risk. In the beginning there were nights I would wake up in my new apartment in a cold sweat thinking, “Good God what have I done!” and wondering if he would take me back.
    Let me just say that life is a lot more exhilarating when you step outside that zone.

    P.s. I wasn't able to finish the book Eat, Pray, Love...after a while it ceased to interest me. Maybe I just wasn't ready for it at the time...

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  6. @ Lisa - thanks for sharing your experiences. It's interesting how much they mirrored Gilbert's. I also moved here without much of a safety net, and I remember how terrified I was in the beginning. Good for you for busting out of that comfort zone whenever and however you can!

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