There comes a point in life where we might master a lesson, but we don’t want to leave the lesson just yet. No, we’d rather spend more time being masters of this lesson. We want to continue to inhabit a space that we’re comfortable with. A space where we know our way around. A space where everything is familiar to us.
A lesson that may have been a pain in our back for such a long time, because it was such a difficult lesson to learn, now, ironically, becomes a source of comfort. A security blanket.
And yet, at the exact moment when we start becoming comfortable with a lesson, that is usually the exact moment when the clock starts to wind down—and the alarm goes off—signaling that the lesson is over. Time to move on to the next one.
But we’re not ready. We don’t want to go.
What the next lesson is we don’t know yet, and that’s what scares us. The unknown.
It always seems that it’s only briefly after we’ve mastered a lesson, that we’re whisked away again, into the next phase, the next lesson, the next chapter.
The More You Master Life, The More Life Expects Of You
Life doesn’t like us being comfortable for very long, does it? Life likes us constantly moving. Changing. Growing.
So as soon as we’re comfortable with a situation, the situation changes, and we’re flipping out.
Options that were closed to you before are now cracking open. And you don’t know what to do with all the new possibilities. It can be overwhelming.
Ideas you once thought were concrete suddenly take on a new kind of vulnerability. Old ideas start to crumble under the weight of new ones—right before your very eyes.
And how were you to know that, after passing this class, there was a new, far more advanced class just around the corner? How were you to know that with every new lesson, the class would bigger, the lessons would get more cryptic, the teacher would get more intimidating, and the homework would become a whole lot more daunting?
But I suppose that’s what inevitably happens to all students who pass the “end of the year” test. They don’t end school, they just move on to the next level. They’re not taken off the hook as they had hoped.
Laying Down Our Old, Worn Out Tools
A few months ago I was having a conversation with my friend E. She was talking to me about how our coping mechanisms are meant to be temporary. She said that coping mechanisms are only meant to get us through a certain tough spot in life, but once their usefulness is over, these mechanisms must be relinquished in order to allow us to grow.
At first, this statement bothered me because I never thought I’d have to let go of my coping mechanisms. My coping mechanisms were like old, worn out tools for me. Tools that I used to get me through the tough spots in life. They were reliable. They were comfortable. They were mine.
It made me very uneasy to think that I would have to relinquish these old tools and replace them with something else.
But after a while of thinking about it, I knew my friend E was right. Putting away our old, worn out tools is the first step to successfully leaving our comfort zone.
Don’t get me wrong. Our old, worn out tools were great. They were not useless at the time we truly needed them. At that time, our old tools successfully served their purpose: they helped us overcome.
But now that the lesson is mastered, these old tools are no longer necessary.
So, we need to set these old, worn out tools down and open our hands to receive brand new ones. What these tools look like, and who will give them to us, we don’t know yet. But we can’t possibly be ready to receive new tools if we’re still carrying our old ones.
As a new lesson looms, the time has come for brand new tools. Brand new ideas. Brand new thoughts. Brand new perspectives. Brand new ways of looking at the world.
The brand new tools are what will help us master the new task at hand. These brand new tools will humble us and encourage us to let go of what we thought we knew for sure, in order to embrace what is, in fact, for sure.
As we move forward, we might contradict our past selves.
The Courage to Revise
Leaving our comfort zone, and summoning up the courage to revise, means we have to be okay with realizing that what we knew to be right, may be wrong; that what we knew to be concrete, may be more fluid than we thought.
Who we were yesterday, may not be the person we’re going to become tomorrow. And the world we thought we we’re familiar with, may actually be stranger than we ever thought it was.
No wonder we love comfort so much. It’s one of the hardest things to leave.
Therefore, the best way to summon up the courage to leave our comfort zone is to go forward with the spirit of an eager student. We must try to let go of our dread, and simply become excited about the new lesson, the new teachers, and the new tools we will begin to use. We must enter the new classroom with a wide-eyed curiosity and a thrilling openness.
It really does feel like one’s first day of class at a new school when you’re leaving your comfort zone.
So, go forward with the willingness to learn and soak up all the new information like a sponge. Go forward with a willingness to ask questions when you don’t understand, and a willingness to make mistakes, and look foolish. Thirdly, go forward with a willingness to stick with the lesson for as long as it takes you to master it.
And, of course, you must enter the new classroom with a trust in your new teacher, and a trust in her own, unique way of providing guidance.
We must allow ourselves to be creative once more, and be open to abandoning old formulas that we’ve relied on thus far because they were safe and served us well. Because now these old formulas are exactly the things that are holding us back.
As we summon up the courage to revise, the questions we must seriously ask ourselves are these:
“Can I allow myself to look at the world differently? Can I allow myself to be taught by new teachers? Can I allow myself to try on new tools and new formulas? Can I allow myself to let go of comfort, and give myself the freedom to grow, which, in the end, will bear me more fruit than simply staying stagnant? Can I allow myself to look at life as an event that unfolds in stages, and not in one, uninterrupted frame? Can I allow myself to live in each of these stages, mastering each stage, but not letting a single stage master me?”
And at last:
“Can I be okay with losing all that I once had, in order to gain so much more?”
Two years ago today I started this blog, and on that day I made a vow to finish the first draft of my novel. Today I renew that vow: I commit to finishing the third draft of my novel by January 1, 2013.
Now, where that vow leads me this year is anybody’s guess. But as I stay true to that vow, I hope to remain open to any new vision that comes my way.
That being said: Chapter Three of the C2C begins today.
much “Happy Two Year Anniversary Courage 2 Create!”
To follow the Courage 2 Create and find out what happens to Ollin and his novel, you can subscribe by inserting your e-mail into the subscription box in the top right corner of the sidebar! Subscription is completely free! Thank you for subscribing!