One of my favorite songs of all time is “Change” by Blind Melon. I read a back story on the band that said when Shannon Hoon auditioned for the band as singer, the rest of the group was reluctant. Then he strummed his acoustic guitar and sang “Change” in that trademark wail and the rest (to embrace a cliche) is early 90’s rock history.
My favorite lyric in the song says, “When you stop dreaming, it’s time to die.” Never mind the fact that Shannon Hoon could not heed his own advice and died tragically of a drug overdose.
Too often, unhappiness is a result of complacency, accepting your life as it is. Comfort zones are walls built by those who are afraid not that they aren’t able to scale the wall, but of what might be on the other side.
Where my father’s parents used to live, there was a cinder block wall between the house and the gas station next door, as if blocking suburbia from industry. The wall started in the front yard as just a few blocks, but as it stretched closer the stack grew higher and higher until it blocked the gas station from sight of anyone standing in the back yard. This meant that anyone brave enough could climb the wall one stack of blocks at a time until he reached the highest point. My adventurous little self braved this challenge once and was rewarded with a view of the gas station roof. Baseballs, cups, tennis balls, hats, and other objects I couldn’t identify littered the rooftop. If my father had not called me down, I might have attempted to jump from the wall to the land of boyhood treasures.
What are we so worried about when we set comfort zones? Are we worried that something unexpected might happen? What’s so great about predictability? Adventure is the unexpected. I embarrass myself every summer because I still don’t know how to dive properly. For years I was afraid to drop head first into the water. What I lack in form now, however, I make up for in enthusiasm because I have become addicted to that rush of battling the voice inside screaming, “What are you doing? You’re going to get hurt?” That is the adventure.
I think the most important New Year’s Resolution anyone can make is to embrace each chance to dismantle your walls. I’m not asking you to smash it down all at once (in fact, I don’t recommend it). But if you had any idea how beautiful it could be on the other side and how many opportunities are available to you.
- If you’re shy, start a conversation with the cashier at Wal Mart.
- If you’re afraid of heights, ride the elevator to the top floor and look out the nearest window.
- If you’ve been avoiding a broken relationship, call them up and say, “I’m sorry,” even if it wasn’t your fault.
- If you’re battling an addiction, find someone you trust and say, “I need help.”
- If you believe in God and you’re waiting for Him to do something great, start praying.
I could go one and on. The point is that we limit our possibilities when we set comfort zones. We create fears that are unnecessary and irrational. Sure, there are some things we should fear, but human interaction, kindness, love, charity, joy… none of those are on my list. Nor should they be on yours.
“When life is hard, you have to change.”