Monday, July 20, 2015

All the Little Ways We Play it Safe

I was sitting at a stoplight on Market Street about a month ago, assessing the length of the line of cars in front of me when the sign for "the highway" beckoned. I don't like that on-ramp, I reminded myself. Too difficult to merge.

And then I heard myself. Seriously?? Your spring chicken days may be behind you, but you're definitely too young to be shying away from such things as on-ramps in the town where you live.

Which got me thinking of all the little ways we play it safe. How many times do we:

  • Take the road through town instead of getting on the highway?
  • Eat at a familiar restaurant instead of trying something new?
  • Choose the same vacation spot instead of exploring new territory?
Routines can be beneficial. They can help minimize anxiety by giving us a sense of predictability. But if we're not careful, they can become ruts and morph into trenches that entrap us, making us hesitant to venture out of the tried and true...keeping us trapped in a routine that shuts out other new, exciting possibilities.

Although routines can become entrenched before we know it, they can also be easily disrupted. We can take the highway, eat at a new restaurant, try a new vacation spot. Venture out of our comfort zone.

Last spring, I attended my favorite writers' conference. I'd planned to take the train to the conference, then return home with a colleague who was driving Having fallen
into the habit of being the passenger on long trips (my husband likes to drive), I was reluctant to tackle the drive myself.

But then my ride fell through and I had a decision to make. Really, it wasn't much of a decision; since I had no intention of missing the conference, I needed to take the driver's seat.

As it turned out, it was a great trip all around.

Which is exactly what I reminded myself as I turned off Market Street and onto the exit ramp.

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