The Danger of Comfort

“People wish to be settled; only as far as they are unsettled is there any hope for them.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

I love the irony about our modern culture, we do everything we can so we can live “comfortable” lives, but once we get there, we get bored and unhappy. That is of course, if we ever even achieve that because most people will always have ever fleeting goals and ambitions about this life of “comfort and luxury” that they see in the media. It becomes like the carrot on the stick, every time you get close to catching it, it moves further away from you. I am sure you have heard this before, its the reason materialism can’t bring us happiness; and yet we all strive for it nonetheless. There are so many unhappy people out there in the developed world, and I would argue that there are equal amount of people with untapped potential. Why is that? how did we get here? how can we ever get out?

There are many reason as to how we got here but the main reason I want to talk about is the fear of discomfort. We are terrified of leaving our comfort zone, we are terrified to meet new people, go to new places, or travel to new countries; we are basically terrified of everything. This is largely due to the media and how we only see the bad side, simply because the good side is not interesting enough to get viewers. We have build a wall around us that blocks out anything that we are not used to. Everyone back at home asked me if it was safe out there when I was in South East Asia, that was always a question that kept on coming up over and over. To tell you the truth, I felt more safe out there than I have in some parts of Los Angeles or even some parts of San Diego. It is all in our heads; the mind is a powerful tool but if not trained, it can work against you. As a society, we have gotten to a state of living that we don’t need to keep on hunting and gathering constantly in order to provide food for ourselves and our families and as a result we have lost that inner drive. We have convinced ourselves to not strive for more and have suppressed that “will to grow” within ourselves. Some have tried to aim it at mental growth such as reading and acquiring knowledge. That is great and I love learning and mental stimulation too, but there is a limit to how much we can achieve from our arm chairs at home or in the office. Each unique experience holds so many different levels of reality, that you will never be able to learn from books, pictures, movies, or even VR. You can learn all there is to know about the lower calf creek falls but you will never be able to tell me the aroma that each rock, moss, plant, bug, dirt, and sand adds to the atmosphere, you can’t tell me how each droplets of mist feel crashing against your skin as the wind hurls them in every direction, you can never feel the immense pressure of the falls pulling you down as you get closer and closer to the base, and you can never tell me about the inner peace you feel when you sit there and realize that all those elements have combined perfectly in that moment just for you.

So what is the moral of the story? It sounds cliché but go out there and get out of your comfort zone, challenge yourself, go to a new city, discover a new waterfall, meet new people, do something real and you will see how your mind, body and spirit grows from it. Once you get a taste of it, you will want to keep challenging yourself, and the more you do it the more you grow. You will realize that you are becoming a more complete person, and if you think about it, is there a better goal in life than to become a whole and complete person?

P.S. Yes I did really swim to the bass of the waterfall,  here’s a picture if you don’t believe me! :p (Also be safe when you are trying new things, use common sense and your best judgment)

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Seeking the Company of Solitude

“The psychotic drowns in the same waters in which the mystic swims with delight” -Joseph Campbell

I have always loved road trips, so when a friend suggested the Grand Canyon, I asked for five days off work and started planning our trip. Alright fine, I didn’t do any planning but I did get the days off. After a series of events, all four people canceled and due to my stubborn nature I decided to carry on. I bought snacks and water, took a tent and was off on an eight hour drive to a different State. Most people would have stopped after a few set backs and would see them as signs that they should turn back and abandon this trip. I think at any other point in my life I would have done the same, especially when I locked my keys in my car when I stopped for gas a couple hours into the drive, or when the check engine light turned on after four hours of driving, or when camp sites were all full and I had to sleep in my car. Something urged me to keep going and I am glad I did because what I found was much more than the one of the seven natural wonders of the world. I found a strange sensation within me when I was alone for so long, three days with minimal contact with people. I was alone with my thoughts and I had to face them, the good and the bad ones. I had to come to terms with my problems and had to make a conscious decision to either face them head on or go back to the false comforts that I had created for myself. Usually when I thought of a weakness I would quickly dismiss it with a strength and that would be the end of it. I would never delve deep enough to figure out ways that I could better myself in order to deal with my problems. After three days of sleeping in my car and exploring hikes on the grand canyon, I decided to end my trip earlier and return home to enjoy some horizontal sleeping on my bed for once. Only after when I started telling my story to people I realized that I was not afraid to admit my weaknesses. I was not afraid to admit that I was scared of the dark when I went out at night to relieve myself or that I felt lonely at times and wished for some company. I was comfortable enough to admit these things where as before I had this idea that “I can not let others know my weaknesses” plaque my mind and in doing so unintentionally ostracized myself from the people around me. To my surprise all of a sudden people connected with me more and they didn’t think any less of me, on the contrary they respected me more. Most likely this was because they themselves had experienced fear and loneliness at some point or another in their lives but when they heard me talking about mine and so readily admitting to them, they perceived someone who has conquered those fears. In a way I had because I was able to go on a trip by myself and enjoy it at the same time. In the social circles that I grew up in, that is very uncommon. People do things alone if they have to but not many would CHOOSE to go through such an experience alone. Even now I hear a lot of people talking about getting married having better friends or making better connections and its great to have those things but people talk as if they need to have it. This need in itself could be a barrier to achieving those things, if that is truly what you wish for. There are many other aspects of life that this comes into play, a popular one is trying to force yourself to fall asleep. It just simply wont work, the more you mentally exert yourself to try and sleep the more awake you will become. Another less know but more common one is stressing over stress, if you have a lot of stress in your life and you try really hard to not stress about it and you are constantly thinking of ways to stop stressing and it is always a topic of thought for you; you have only accumulated more stress into your life. Depending on your mental state, solitude can be a prison or a source of liberation. Make solitude your friend and you will be surprised by how many people will seek your company for it.

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P.S. The first time I got to the view point of the grand canyon, it was almost dark and I went to the edge and was just astounded. I felt my insignificance, small, irrelevant, almost as if I did not exist. The odd thing was that I feel at peace at the same time, because it put my life into perspective and compared to this vastness, I was nothing and so were my problems. I forgot about all my worries and was lost in deep thought and appreciation for this wonder. It was a short lived moment but it was a moment of clarity and tranquility that I will never forget.

The Road to Rome

How it all Started

“The Journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step” -Lao Tzu

Pulled over by the side of highway 40, I can see at least 10 miles in each direction. No one to be seen or heard of, in this moment in my journey to the grand canyon, I felt truly alone, and yet truly liberated. Free from all social pressures and mental confinements that came with it. I realized that I had discovered a Truth.