It is good for us to do things that challenge, and even scare ourselves from time to time. The effect is often to feel more alive and renewed, and helps to put the smaller problems of daily life in perspective.
When I plan vacations I like to add a little adventure. Something we have not done before and could get the old adrenaline flowing. Feeling safe all of the time is not a good thing. We need to step out of our comfort zone to stretch ourselves, and to feel energized, able and competent! To get your heart pumping and to be a little scared is a rush that helps you feel alive. There’s a sense of well being and accomplishment when finished, and a good story for dinner parties, and for when we are old to show our grandchildren how cool we were.
When I first zip-lined in the jungle tree tops in Costa Rica, my heart was pumping hard, but as I stepped off of the first platform, so high that you could not see the ground below through the thick forest, I had a certain calm come over me and had to trust that those in charge had built it safe and I would be ok, or maybe it was just the realization that I had no control. I stepped off the platform, zipping from tree top to tree top, and I might as well enjoy it because there was nothing I could do to change anything at that point. I might as well enjoy the ride and fly with the wind! It was fun and life affirming and we were perfectly safe.
On our recent trip to New Zealand we visited Bluff. We flew into Invercargill, and then took transportation to the southern most tip of the island known as Bluff New Zealand. It was a small fishing village with quaint buildings and friendly people. It had some of the best sunsets around. We stayed in a Bed and Breakfast located at the end of a winding road, and it was on one of the most beautiful areas of the beach with rolling hills and nature preserves surrounding the nearby town.
This was considered the southern most tip of New Zealand, and it had a sign at the end of the road to mark its importance. Through our window we could see many people drive up and take pictures at this most lovely spot. The sign showed how many miles it was to various other parts of the world including how far it was to Antarctica.
The famous hiking trail known as the Te Araroa goes from the top of the North Island of New Zealand through to the tip of the South island, and ends in Bluff in front of our Bed and Breakfast. It is a 3000 km walk and takes most people about 4 months. Over the three days we were there we saw a number of hikers end their hike in elation, with pictures to commemorate their accomplishment, hard work and perseverance to make the entire trek. They celebrated by hanging their hiking boots over the sign and taking pictures that they will cherish forever. It was clearly a celebration of life. They had pushed their limits and made the ultimate decision to leave any comfort and challenge themselves to complete this important personal journey. We met some of them and you could see the electricity of life in their eyes and the pride of accomplishment.
This is the feeling we want to feel everyday. We want the electricity for life that makes one excited to get up in the morning and to be happy, satisfied and to feel competent and accomplished; a zest for life that always playing it safe does not provide. We have been fortunate enough to have done many life affirming things, to take us out of our comfort zone and to challenge our comfortable day to day existence. We have taken helicopters over beautiful mountains, the Grand Canyon and the Great Barrier Reef. We have swam with sharks and gone shark cage diving. We have hiked beyond our comfort zone, and been lost and then found again. It is life affirming to face your fears and chose activities that scare you. The day to day work and life issues are not as consequential when you have been in situations that scare you. Facing work deadlines or difficult meetings or encounters of every kind in your work life or daily life become small and surmountable in the big scheme of things. The scariest thing for me would be to think that I did not live my life to the fullest. Take on challenges and push your comfort zone for a full, happy and most satisfying existence. There is calm and contentment in your life when you know what you can do, if you try.