I’ve trained in aikido (Japanese martial art) for over a decade. While I’ve yet to gain ninja-like skills, I love that I’m more aware now. Living in the moment may be trendy, but it’s also something I work to do. Instead of always planning and stressing, I try to breathe, move, and relax as I treasure each moment. I am much more aware of myself and my surroundings now…at least I always think I am.
Ahhh, comfort…is ignorance really bliss then?
I think I’m more aware, but perhaps I’ve been lulled into a false sense of security??
There are so many demands on us in our daily lives that we aren’t always aware of how comfortable we are. We operate on autopilot without even realizing it (was that traffic light actually red?). Despite the tense world environment, few of us face threats against our very lives each day. We are relatively insulated and live comfortably in our daily routines. Often, we float blindly through life ignorant of so many of dangers and opportunities.
I love to travel, but it does always challenge my comfort level in so many ways. [Yellowstone was the most recent trip – this was one of my fave images].
Each trip has its own peculiar challenges. International travel may bring language and transportation barriers. Domestic travel includes navigating strange cities/ roads in a rented car. There are time zone and elevation changes as well as domestic and international terror levels. The list is endless, but travel always serves to remove me from my comfort zone.
My Yellowstone was no different. There is such excitement in traveling across the country to see new and different things I’d only dreamed of previously. However, I was quickly reminded that awareness is exhausting. In addition to the list above, there were game crossing warnings for every patch of road. There was also the Teton Pass (10% grade, steep curves, and fog/ snow/ ice issues) which I first drove while it was dark. Hiking the park trails required packing bear spray. My shoulders were certainly inching closer to my ears by the end of each day when I fell into an exhausted heap to sleep.
Awareness is exhausting.
All too easily though that gift of awareness can become fear, and fear isn’t just exhausting, it is debilitating. It can paralyze your mind and body and freeze you in place despite dangers. It can also make you hyper vigilant so that every shadow appears threatening. The awareness I’m always seeking could actually cause me to miss so many opportunities. Being terrified of a potential bear attack could have meant missing the incredible park vistas I had traveled so far to see. And those views were certainly worth more than a quick glance [I can’t resist adding another personal photo].
Awareness is exhausting, but fear is deadly…and yet so is ignorance.
Being mauled by a bear I’d stumbled upon while struggling to get the perfect picture isn’t my idea of fun. Park safety rules were posted and following them protected us against injury and death. Ignorance isn’t always bliss, my friends.
Awareness may be exhausting, but it can also save our lives and improve them. The trick is to find the right balance for yourself.
How do we find that balance in our lives? Can we maintain some comfort while still challenging ourselves? Do we know where the edges of our comfort zones are (physical, mental, and emotional) to challenge ourselves? Are we aware of our blind spots?
To paraphrase a quote friend shared with me, life happens at the edge (and even outside of) our comfort zone. Being uncomfortable means being aware and that can help us walk that line and find our balance to appreciate our daily lives without overwhelming fear or ignorance.
I do think it is a constant tightrope act. Being aware is a skill. As with any skill, practice and regular use are required to keep it sharp. We don’t just gain awareness and never have to work at it again. Each day, we must seek that balance between terror and obliviousness.
Awareness is exhausting, but it is also worth it. It’s still a struggle for me, but I’m learning to be okay with that. Life truly is about the journey, not the destination. I’m perfectly content to take the scenic route even if it means I continue to fall into an exhausted sleep each night.
So, how about you? Are you too comfortable or ignorant in your daily life? What are your tricks for finding awareness and balance?
Feel free to share your experiences and comment, my friends!