I was walking along the beach today when I noticed something strange.
At first, I couldn’t figure out what it was, until I suddenly realized I wasn’t carrying anything. And that was weird to me. I was wearing a bathing suit and sunglasses but left everything else behind. No bag. No phone. No shoes. No other people. Just me.
But I couldn’t shake the feeling of being really uncomfortable. What do I do with my arms? How do I even walk when I’m not carrying anything?
Yesterday, my dad casually mentioned to me that we have two tendons in our feet that are only used for walking on uneven surfaces. And so most of the time, we never use them. Walking over the uneven sand, I remember thinking my tendons definitely needed more practice. I felt weirdly out of touch with my body, even though I live in it every single day.
And it’s not that I don’t try to be connected to myself. If anything, I spend way too much time inside my head talking to myself and thinking about things. But all of these connections to my “self” are really just to my mind and my thoughts. And recently, I have been trying to dissociate my “self” from my “thoughts”, thanks to The Power of Now.
So what’s missing? It’s not like I don’t use my body. I spent the last four months in Paris and walked for hours every day. I workout regularly. But what does that actually entail? Well, I walk for hours a day on paved sidewalks, surrounded by buildings, often referencing a map on my phone, and carrying a backpack that is way too heavy for my own good. And I exercise in a gym, sometimes with machines, sometimes with weights. But always inside, always some type of routine, always predictable. And the craziest part to me is that I never even realized what was missing. I feel like I have suddenly become reliant on epiphanies to help guide me through life. On one level, this could be good because that means I’m utilizing my subconscious a lot more, as epiphanies certainly aren’t a conscious creation. But this also leads to a plethora of all-around strange, sometimes unidentifiable feelings. Like this one. I was so weirded out by the concept of being out of touch with my body and more natural forms of movement. But to be honest, I could not remember the last time I went anywhere without bringing anything with me. I even have a pretty thick mental barrier to entry for exploring, getting dirty, and just getting out into the unknown: all things that I loved doing when I was younger and probably still love today.
For a while now, I’ve been thinking about the wonder that surrounds kids. I like to call it adventurous curiosity. Always ready to try something new. Always looking for an adventure. Always excited, curious, and seeing awe in the great, big world. As for how to incorporate this childlike curiosity into my life, I’m pretty stumped. I started by looking for ways to “play”, but after a night of brainstorming I had exactly 0 good ideas of how to play.
So maybe I still don’t know how to play or fully bring forth the childlike awareness, but I do know one place to start: outside.
As a kid, I was always outside, In addition to playing sports and neighborhood games, I even remember doing homework outside. Outside was the place to be and I wasn’t afraid of anything even when I probably should have been. So one thing I can do now is get outside more, with a bias for more rugged terrains and as little stuff as possible.
The other thing I noticed today is that everything here, everything on that beach, felt so comfortable. I wasn’t getting that crazy dopamine-rush of travelling to a new place because everything felt all too familiar. And then it hit me. It wasn’t because I had been here before or that things physically looked familiar. It was just that I didn’t have to push myself outside of my comfort zone to go about my daily life. Now obviously, there are ways that you can challenge yourself anywhere, but it wasn’t inherent in any part of this trip. And that’s when I realized there really are two paths in this world: comfortable or not comfortable.
And seeing everyone camped out in front of their resort-style hotels, under multicolored umbrellas, sitting on sand that was a little too perfectly smooth, made me realize that this is not the life for me. Not that there’s anything wrong with being comfortable. In fact, I was on the path of comfort for the first 20 years of my life and that served me very well. Only after starting my 365 day challenge, did I start to wake up, wander off the path, and eventually realize comfort is no longer what I wanted.
Why? Because as crazy as it sounds, I’m no longer comfortable being comfortable.