A human being is only breath and shadow. ~ Sophocles
Because everything we say and do is the length and shadow of our own souls, our influence is determined by the quality of our being. ~ Dale Turner
The post I am writing today was inspired by this photo of a shadow. So often individuals will spend their lives lurking in shadows (sometimes of their own creation, sometimes not). Since the inception of Facebook, many of us will even refer to ourselves as lurkers – watching the Facebook world regularly, but not often participating actively. We find the safety that quiet space and then get comfortable and do not want to move.
My eldest daughter can find herself in this position often. She tends to freeze in new situations and is not one to be an active participant. Mostly, she needs time to warm up, but often looses out on an option or opportunity because by the time she feels comfortable the moment has passed. She ends up frozen in the shadow when she would have really appreciated the opportunity to shine in the spotlight – and there is no one to blame, she is her own worst enemy in those moments. Recently we had the opportunity to take what is known as a “Duck Tour” – a tour in an amphibious vehicle that is capable of running on land and water. While we were in the water the tour guide asked if any children wanted to drive the boat. I told my daughter she should and she looked completely mortified. I prepared her over the next 10 minutes, and made sure that her younger sister drove the boat first (so she could see that her sister would do it and live through the experience). She really hesitated and some might argue I did the wrong thing by pushing her to drive the boat. I felt it was an important lesson for her to learn – how to confront her fears in the moment and no longer let an opportunity pass her by. Any person looking on would not have understood, as in the moments before she drove the boat she looked pained, miserable. Yet, as soon as she did start driving, a large smile erupted on her face. When the tour was over, she confidently stated that her favorite part was driving the boat. (I knew that would be the case, which is why I pushed her.) I took advantage of the opportunity to remind her that something out of our comfort zones can be a wonderful experience, if we allow ourselves to take risks.
I think there is a time for lurking in the shadows. I am not the one to dance wildly on the floor of a night club blaring with music (though I enjoy going along) and I am not a big fan of party games, but I will try a ropes course, drive a boat, travel to new destinations and try new foods. I think the important thing is to realize which activities are worth pushing yourself to move out of the comfort zones of daily life and into an opportunity for adventure and new experiences.
Today, 307 days ’til 40, I will continually challenge myself to live my life outside of the shadows of my comfort zone – sometimes the most exciting and rewarding opportunities are waiting for me to take that risk. I am sure you will find the same.