“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.” Mark Twain
I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Twain. Experiencing other cultures, exploring different landscapes, encountering anything that gets us out of our comfort zone is expanding and expansion is good.
I have designed my life to be as comfortable as possible. My criteria for deciding anything includes consideration of how comfortable or uncomfortable will it make me. I am, if I do say so myself, very successful at enjoying comfort. But, life has a funny way of constantly putting me at the edge of my carefully constructed comfort zone and I’m adapting. Very slowly.
I love my home and I love being home. I also love my children and my children travel thousands of miles to be nowhere near my home, so if I want to be with them, I must leave my comfortable home. I travelled twice this summer (so far) to be where they are and those trips put me squarely out of my comfort zone.
On this last excursion, aside from the encountering different language, culture, climate, food etc., I encountered solitude. Sitting alone and mostly sleepless each night—My kids had their own small accommodations—I had no distractions or comforting devices. We had big dinners every night, so I wasn’t hungry. I had no alcohol. I wasn’t going to do nightlife by myself. I’d done all my social media posting and friend chatting for the day. TV was in another language and I didn’t feel any need to surf. The book I brought was not that interesting either. There I sat. With myself. For hours and hours for five nights. It felt like being in a monastery or taking a vow of silence for a period of time. I discovered amazing things inside.
This vacation was singularly about spending time with my adult, very responsible and capable children. It was a major opportunity to practice being and not so much doing. As all moms know, switching to ‘being’ instead of ‘doing’ is one of the most difficult transitions we experience in our lives. My kids haven’t needed me to ‘do’ things for them for years. I still find it hard!
I saw how much time I spend in diversion. Entertaining myself. Distracting and numbing. And, even participating in/creating dramas, like surgery! So much effort is going toward keeping all that dwells within quiet.
Well, Mark Twain, by leaving my comfort zone that consists of noise, distraction, entertainment, numbing and drama I bumped up against and vegetated on the things within that help me know myself, expand and therefore become more myself and enjoy a broader view and wider life experience.