Rethinking the Comfort Zone

I watched a movie on PBS tonight, Black Narcissus, and it made me think. Oh, not about anything that it was intended to make be think about, but about how comfortable life has become...

Of all the things that should have affected me in the film, the thing that troubled me most was the incessant wind. Not the frigid temperatures of the Himalayas, not the culture, not the palace perched upon dangerously sheer, 9000 ft. cliffs, not even life as a nun. It was the wind and the fact that it blew through the rooms, blew the nuns' habits, the curtains, everything... that's what bothered me most. It was almost unbearable to watch.

But I had to ask myself, why am I now so afraid to challenge myself, to step outside my comfort zone? What happened to me? I lived in Kirk Creek canyon in Big Sur for three months, washing my clothes in the river and showering in a waterfall. I sang for my supper in Haight-Ashbury, never knowing where I was going to sleep at night. I stuck out my thumb with no destination except where the next ride might take me. And now, when I think about going to Merida, Mexico for a year, I balk. And why? Because the streets can look a little third world... because I may not have air conditioning... because I may not be able to flush toilet paper... because, because, because...

Exactly when did the adventureror in me get flabby? When did comfort win out over experience? When did my curiosity get hi-jacked? When did I decide to stop exploring?

I think it's important for us to challenge ourselves as we get older. Otherwise we run the risk of not living. I've always said that I wanted to live until I die; I think it's time for me to honor that and to hell with the comfort zone!