Friday, August 21, 2009

The Comfort Zone

Vance "riding the fence"

My two biggest fears in life are neck ties and cubicles. One is a leash and the other is a kennel. Both crush human spirit. I believe that these two things lead to comfort and complacency. Once comfort and complacency set in it is all over.

I was fortunate that my family always pushed me to challenge life, step out of the comfort zone, and experience life. Living rather than merely existing. Well after 20 some years of seeking the next adventure, a major life change has happened and I have to realize one of my greatest fears. I regret to inform, my recent job in the Army has landed me in a cubical. I know, the agony.

Fortunately, I have my wife, four children officially "The Irish Tsunami" and my bicycles. My children are not only smarter but they serve as an example to me about how important it is to get out of the comfort zone and challenge life. In the picture above, Vance is "riding the fence" after watching Danny MacAskill literally ride on a fence. My daughter cannot go fast enough on her bike. It has been amazing to watch her zoom down the hill. No baby gate in the world can hold back Simon, the 2 year-old. Don't get me wrong, they are good children, however, they do not live in the comfort zone. Therefore, I don't live in the comfort zone.

I have found however, that the best way to beat the cubical doldrums is through bicycling. I have spent the majority of my life pedaling around. What an amazing source of freedom. In recent years I have worked on mastering the art of bicycle commuting, 7 miles each way to Fort Lee. It took me about one year to experiment with equipment and how to carry it. Figuring out the best route was the biggest challenge; what is better, getting mugged/shot or hit by a car going 65 mph? I have opted for the mugging/shot route. I survived 16 months in Iraq, I hope I can survive a few years of commuting.

If I cannot ride my 'cross bike to work, I throw my 29'r mountain bike in the car. I am blessed that the Petersburg Battlefield National Park entrance is hundreds of feet away from my cube. Who would have thought that a civil war battlefield would provide an outlet for my personal battles.

Bicycling provides two things for me right now simplicity in a complex world and the ability to get out of the comfort zone. I have commuted in the sub-zero weather of Montana and Alaska (-35 degrees) to the 100+ degrees and humidity in Virginia.

I encourage every one to step out of their comfort zone. True every now and then I may end up doing the "walk of shame" or calling for SAG support from my wife, but that just adds to the adventure of life.

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