Where Flowers Grow

Normality is a paved road:  It’s comfortable to walk, but no flowers grow–Vincent van Gogh

Routines are very natural and common in our lives. I have many of them, including eating the same Kashi cereal almost every day. I find the best way to disengage the autopilot and take over the aircraft is to put myself in an environment or a situation where my comfort boundaries are stretched, pulled, and shattered.  If you really want to know what is likely to happen in the future, the best predictor is to take inventory of what happened over the previous 30 days.  Barring a traumatic event, most of us duplicate the insanely repetitive and predictive life moments over and over and over.

A comfort zone exists around any type of behavior that keeps us at a consistently dull level.  Cooking dinner, driving to work, and watching TV are perfect examples of activities that rarely make us feel disturbed and uneasy.  When we step outside of our comfort zone, we’re taking a risk, and opening ourselves up to the possibility of stress and anxiety; we’re not quite sure what will happen and how we’ll react.  Stepping off the edge of a big ledge will kill you.  Walking up to the edge and standing on your tip toes will broaden your horizons and provide a sense of accomplishment. Think about it: Did you ever do something you were really proud of when you were in autopilot mode?

Over the past few years, I have used travel as a crucible to experiment with my comfort zones.  In the past eighteen months, I lived for a month or longer in all of the following places:  Bhutan, Thailand, Spain, Manhattan, Sun Valley, ID, McCall, ID, Palm Springs, CA, and India.  I kiss my lucky stars with gratitude for having the time and resources to dive into such a wide variety of destinations.  While is would be easy to assume that I have some gigantic income or a mountain of assets, I can assure you that my income is modest.  The majority of my money goes towards experiences and I have mastered budget travel.

During my public presentations, many people ask me how they can stir up their lives without getting on an airplane.  We can all make our own Caminos each day by recognizing the repetitive nature of life and taking steps to change.  Here are a few suggestions to go where the flowers grow.

  1.  Go to a bookstore, buy a cookbook, and prepare a random meal every Friday.
  2.  Take a new route to work every Wednesday.
  3.  Make plans and visit a foreign country before 2017.
  4.  Donate 1/3 of your existing wardrobe to charity.
  5.  Sneak your lover into a department store dressing room and get naked.
  6. Enroll in a foreign language class at a local community college.
  7. Make time for yoga at least once a week for two months.
  8. Rearrange the furniture in one room.
  9. Skydive this summer.
  10. Today, provide a random act of kindness for a stranger.

PS:  Don’t procrastinate.