Heard this one today on the radio, and I think it speaks for itself.
“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”
How’s your 2013 going? We’re almost a month in, my update is coming tomorrow.
“If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.”
-Jim Rohn, Author
Let me show you a picture of where I used to live. Tell me I didn’t have it good.
That is the Harbourlight Restaurant in Nelson, New Zealand. It’s a three story building, and I lived in the flat on the third floor. I managed the restaurant, so not only did I have a wonderful view every morning and evening, I literally worked a half flight of stairs from where I lived. In fact, the other three restaurants in our private chain were not even 400 m up or down the road, all four were on the waterfront, and each had a glorious view.
I had the life. I would awake every morning around 7, make myself a coffee, go for a run to the beach, then head back and enjoy breakfast on my deck. I’d have a few hours to kill before needing to attend to my duties, so I would either grab my mountain bike and hit the trails (minutes away), grab my gear and fish or surf, or stroll into the city center. By 3PM I was dealing with restaurant issues and by 5PM we were open for business, usually until about 10:30, wherein I could close up and head upstairs.
Rinse, lather, repeat. Yes sir, I had the life.
Of course, the undertow current running beneath this idyllic memory was my divorce from my first wife, my college sweetheart. It was because of this divorce that my time in paradise (as I saw it then) came to an end. I had to return stateside, seek out the counsel of family and friends, and piece together a life without her in it. At the time I didn’t see a way out. I only saw pain, heartache, and the desperation of having left the best life I could have imagined.
My first lesson was that you can cope and recover.
It’s amazing how the pain of yesterday fades away in time. Years later, as I look back, I remember very little of the blackness that seemed to grip my heart. Oh sure, I can feel a twinge every now and then, mostly associated with a sound, smell or event memory, but by and large, I only remember joy and a sense of ease when I think back on those years. I remember exactly what it was like to have “the life”. It was fun and great and exciting, and I love those memories.
However, this, too, has caused problems.
My second lesson was that you can’t live in your past.
It made me want to live in my past. I began to associate Nelson with the only time I had ever truly been carefree and happy. It became my siren’s song, and for a time, I believed I couldn’t be that happy again unless I moved my family back there. Like the song states,
“Visions of good times that brought so much pleasure
makes me want to go back again“.
I wanted to be there. More than anything, I wanted that feeling back. I was living in my past.
It took a long time before I realized I could be happy elsewhere. My marriage to my wife, kids, a good job, and trust with friends all developed in the years between. One day, I just kind of woke up and began to think long and hard about the next verse:
“I think about Paris when I’m high on red wine,
I wish I could jump on a plane.
So many nights I just dream of the ocean,
God I wish I was sailing again.
Oh, yesterdays over my shoulder,
So I can’t look back for too long.
There’s just too much to see waiting in front of me
And I know that I just can’t go wrong“
You see, by refusing to move on, I completely missed out on my present for several years. And they were good years, too. Years before children, with more free money and time. Years that I could have spent pursuing other passions, travelling, or taking more risks. I was convinced that I knew what happiness was, and that I couldn’t have it without being in Nelson. I had such a narrow view of what would bring me happiness that I didn’t make my own life happy.
In short, I wanted to make the next chapter exactly like a previous one.
I laugh now, rereading that last sentence, because it’s such an oxymoron of a statement. When the ex and I originally moved to New Zealand, we didn’t have a place to stay, a job, a car, or anything aside from passports and one suitcase of clothes apiece. If not exactly the Mt Everest of “taking a chance”, it was certainly somewhere nearby in Tibetan plateau. And yet, here I was wanting to take no chances on creating more happiness; I wanted safety in memory, not the truth of the life in front of me.
The truth is this: You have to make your own future if you want to be happy. You have to take a chance and believe that you will wind up where you should be, whether through the guiding hand of God or good fortune. Stagnation does not bring happiness. It brings satisfaction, and unless you’re taking a driving test, satisfactory should never be good enough. You were meant for so much more.
Your past can guide you and help shape decisions, but it’s not where you should live. By doing so, you miss out on your present (and everyone likes a present, right? *rimshot*). All we are guaranteed to take with us as we traverse these trips around the sun are our memories. If you’re never making new memories, what are you going to have to cherish and look back on? If this crazy ride we call life were to end tomorrow, would you look back with regret at the things you did, or would you look back with regret at the things you didn’t do?
I’ve learned which way I would answer. I’d lament every chance I let pass me by.
“If it suddenly ended tomorrow,
I could somehow adjust to the fall.
Good times and riches and son of a bitches
I’ve seen more than I can recall”
That’s where I was this morning. 74F and sunny. Tonight, I will cuddle up next to the wife under a wool blanket and comforter as a moderate ice storm continues to fall outside. Ah, the wonders of modern travel.
As you can tell from my three previous posts, I’ve been away on business in sunny Orlando. Travelling for work is not always glamorous. It can be physically draining and filled with stretches of boredom while at your destination. However, there is always a positive vibe for me as I sit in airports and on airplanes, thinking about my life. Travel itself is inherently exciting. It stimulates our minds and awakens deep yearnings in us, yearnings about change and hope and endless possibilities. I am always invigorated after travelling.
Over the years, I’ve learned to harness this energy. Whenever I travel for work, I try to spend the next few days talking to potential customers about big ideas and grand conversions. I know the boost won’t last forever, but I can tap into it while it is organic and fresh. In short, I try to maximize its potential. Some of my best opportunities have been realized following these types of trips. Expect some good energy from me over the next few days, especially after I sleep off this jet lag.
Another reason that I enjoy travel is the opportunity to tune out the day-to-day and listen to your mind and heart speak. If I go for a run while I’m at home, I find myself thinking about grocery lists, errands, work commitments and such. This morning, I threw the headphones on and went for a 2.5 mile run around the resort compound and listened to Jimmy Buffett radio on Pandora. I didn’t just listen to the songs, though. I wasn’t worried about making sure we had enough diapers, whether I would make a sale today, or what would be for dinner. Instead, I knew my tickets were booked, that my bags were packed and lunch would be served. I found myself actually listening to the music and enjoying the sunlight. Heard a song that I have always loved with some poignant lyrics which I wanted to pass along, lyrics that I will expound upon in my next post.
Reading departure signs in some big airport
Reminds me of the places Ive been
Visions of good times that brought so much pleasure
Makes me want to go back again
If it suddenly ended tomorrow
I could somehow adjust to the fall
Good times and riches and son of a bitches
I’ve seen more than I can recall
Its these changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes
Nothing remains quite the same
With all of our running and all of our cunning
If we couldn’t laugh we would all go insane
I think about Paris when I’m high on red wine
I wish I could jump on a plane
So many nights I just dream of the ocean
God, I wish I was sailing again
Oh, yesterdays over my shoulder
So I can’t look back for too long
There’s just too much to see waiting in front of me
And I know that I just can’t go wrong
Jimmy Buffett: Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes
Quick Goals Updates: Aside from the mileage logged today, I got a light workout (pushups, situps, etc…) in every day and a heavy workout in at the Fitness Center in the resort this morning. I also kept up with my devotional (I found the book while packing!) and knocked out a quick chapter from the next book on my list, How To Win Friends and Influence People. We also have a new setup in the backyard with several new bird feeders, which I will introduce once the weather breaks and I can get some outside shots.
Still away on business, so this will be one last quote of the day. In honor of one year since my Masterchef journey began, I’m posting a quote from a chef who knows a few things about journeys.
“The journey is part of the experience – an expression of the seriousness of one’s intent. One doesn’t take the A train to Mecca”