It happened like this; I woke up alone and scared. Ragged and uncontrollable breaths came with only the most concerted effort. Why was I so violently unnerved? Why was I suddenly afraid to make this 12 month motorcycle journey?
Was it all the ways that I could get injured; a crash, an inattentive driver swerving into my lane, an errant deer in rut? Was it all the ways the bike could break down; they were numerous. I have little to no mechanical skill. I am just now learning to change the oil. The plan was to learn over the next seventeen months to maintain my bike without the need of a mechanic. It would be feat for anyone, especially someone learning under a deadline with nothing but service manual as an instructor.
How had all my planning and motivation vaporized in a single night? Everything that was going to happen, could ever happen laid absolutely bare in front on me. All of these became reasons not to embark on this journey.
All I could see was the danger and isolation that lay ahead. Twelve months, one sobriety date, one birthday, one fourth of July, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas without those close to me. No bed, specifically no “my” bed. No comfort of my couch that had become a safe haven through much of my early recovery and more recently my divorce. My comfortable routine of archery, work, clean cloths and T.V. would be disrupted.
Who was I to think that this endeavor was mine to make? I have only been riding for 4 months! What right do I have to believe that I have the skill to make this happen? I don’t own a touring bike nor have I ridden for more than four hours at a time. Who was I to make the assumption that my body could endure the trip? I have bad right knee, an inflamed right wrist, and a hip that tightens up for no good reason. Can I refuse the false refuge of alcohol when I am all alone? Is my recovery strong enough?
All of these thoughts raced through my mind in flash leaving me in a panic. I had had all the answers in front of me hours before, prepared to face the world and more importantly to face myself. I had strength, motivation and a purpose in my life; for the first time in almost two decades I had peace and freedom. I was living deliberately. I was happy. Where had it gone wrong?
So I did the only thing I knew to do. I took a breath. And then I took another. I kept breathing until all there was was my breath. I meditated, laying bed and finding a safe space; I created a refuge with my breath and body and in this space I found the refuge and freedom to think. As I lay there thinking still full of fear and doubt, I remembered a quote from Buddha. “The antidote is in the poison itself.” The answer to all these issues were somewhere within my own mental dialogue. I resolved to dig deep into my racing thoughts.
What I discover were three simple words.
Ah, my oldest and dearest friends come to visit me again. As an addict but more importantly as a human I crave comfort. I crave safety and security. To seek this things is so deeply ingrained in humans that we rarely even notice how our actions, words and habits revolve around achieving a permanent state of tranquility. Cavemen craved food, fire and shelter. We crave smartphones, climate controlled homes, and designer furniture.
By going on this journey I am purposefully taking myself outside of my comfort zone. I am seeking to push the limitations and boundaries of my own life and concept of myself. Of course this was going to be uncomfortable! That is the whole point. It is only when we are uncomfortable that we truly grow and see how strong we really are. When we become uncomfortable we become anxious and want to scurry back to the safety of our caves. We assume comfort equals safety but it only begets stagnation.
Fear is natural; it is as old as the human species. I felt the fear of discomfort, of being unsafe and with fear arrived doubt. Good old doubt; self judgment, wrapped in rationalization and logic making it more palatable to my pride.
Doubt is nothing more than self judgment and self deprecation. Doubt is our brains method of attempting to preserve a life that was comfortable. But isn’t this exactly what I was trying to do away with in my life? Wasn’t this motorcycle journey a deliberate act to expunge self judgment, self hate and self-centeredness? Hadn’t these things only led me to a place of stagnation?
We each have things that are easy for us (things within our comfort circle) and we each have things that make us uncomfortable and challenge us (our growth circle). If we wish to grow, we can not simply repeatedly do the things that are easy, we must confront the things that are difficult and uncomfortable. I want to grow. I want to expand. I want to know my limits and go so far past them that what was once seemingly terrifying became my new comfortable.
Lying in bed I continued to breath and started smiling; as quickly as the fear came it vanished. What was there to fear? In the end the only fear was that of not facing my limits and living a life in regret.
I refuse to stagnate.
I refuse to regret.
I refuse to give into fear.
I am sure there will be many more moments like this in the future. I hope to get through them as smoothly as I did this one.