BE A PIONEER!
The first time I ever felt like a true pioneer was when I moved with my boyfriend-now-husband from the East Coast to the wilds of Idaho. This would be the first time I would live in a place where none of my family members (or probably even ancestors) had ever lived. Likewise, I couldn’t help but feel like a pioneer in Idaho, knowing that so many settlers had traversed the central plains of our nation to reach this wonderful land of extremes: big spaces, towering mountains, and rushing, icy rivers. Vulnerability took on a different meaning going from city life in Boston (where I went to college) to a state whose entire population hovers around 1 million. I could dare to do things in Idaho that I never would have back East: snowshoeing to the top of Moscow Mountain just outside of our town and snowboarding back down through fresh powder, barely seeing another human all day; rafting across the Salmon River with friends and hiking to hidden hot springs up the side of the canyon, then rafting back down the river in the dark to our private beach where we slept in the open air; traversing 60 miles of river through the Labyrinth Canyon of the Green River with three friends (OK, that was Utah) battling spells of cold rain, slower than expected currents (therefore lots of rowing), reading stories to keep our minds off the slow pace, and living out of a small raft equipped with only a cooler, some gear, a Groover, and my guitar. I might add that none of these activities cost very much money, though good ol' resourcefulness was required to make them happen.
The thing I took away from these marvelous experiences, and the lesson I wish to impart on my readers, is that I was in fact opting not to be comfortable in all three of those scenarios (actually, very uncomfortable in some circumstances). The uncertainty and precariousness of each situation allowed me to define myself as an adventuress, a pioneer, and a more fulfilled person. Ultimately, we do have a choice in the matter, and choosing to challenge the boundaries of our comfortable lives as often as possible is the wisest option if you are interested in seeing how full your life on this earth can be. It is certainly not easy to go beyond one's zone of comfort, but I'll never forget how it felt to slip under crisp, white motel sheets after 5 days on a cold, murky, and dreadfully slow river. For it is the juxtaposition of vulnerability and safety that make being inside and outside of comfort so worthwhile. Indeed, the great part of living in a society that is so navigable is that you can find a happy medium and live a comfortable, daring, and meaningful life. It all depends on what "meaningful" means to you.
Of course, you don’t have to go “into the wild,” so to speak, to be a pioneer or adventurer. The goal is to find opportunities or circumstances that will spark that ember of bravery that lives inside of you, master it, and put it into action. This can involve an enlightening personal journey through nature or paving the way for change in human rights, cancer research, or environmental policies, to name a few.
Being a pioneer is not something that is necessarily accomplished in one day or sitting, so it is important to think of small steps to take that will allow a pioneering goal to come to fruition. And don’t think you have to climb Mount Everest to be a pioneer. The smallest acts can often make the biggest difference.
My latest pioneering achievement was moving with my husband and business from Texas to our tiny hometown in Pennsylvania. It was a risky and precarious decision but I have already noticed the benefits that came with it. I feel more connected to my community, family and friends and see small but wonderful things happening everyday.
What are your pioneering achievements or goals?
In what ways do you opt to go "outside" of comfort?