This short video made by IKEA Spain captures the brilliant power of stepping out of our comfort zone. Well, reality doesn’t work this smoothly but it certainly shows the possibility.
Everybody, regardless of their age bracket, might agree that he or she wants that experience to happen. But few people do that. They make a couple of attempts and then they either give up or find another comfort zone, and stays in the status quo. We are already trained so from our childhood. And we just grow more so until the very end.
What demotivates us from stepping out of our comfort zone? The fear of failure, obviously. More precisely, the fear of being noticed of our failures. We might be laughed at. Ridiculed. Disappointed. More people would keep trying as long as they can do it alone, without anybody’s eyes.
But that fear, the fear of judgement by others, is actually created by ourselves. We merely project what we think of ourselves as someone else’s opinion. When we get hurt by our friend criticizing us, it is our inner evil child whispering to us “See? I told you.”
A rare oddity of feel-good drama in the filmography of David Lynch (but no less memorable), The Straight Story, shows the craziest idea of all: an old man rides a tractor all along to meet his brother. It contains an episode of a pregnant runaway girl ending up sharing a meal with him, who confesses: “My family hates me. They really hate me when they find out.”
She is hated, indeed, by none other than herself. On the other hand, nobody laughs at the old protagonist on a seemingly suicidal trip.
One of the most respectable old people I have ever met was a World War II veteran, who took me and my then-partner to a sushi restaurant to welcome us in the Boston area.
When the sushi dish arrived, I found out that he did not know how to use chopsticks. During the meal he was using two wooden sticks to “disseminate” rolls of sushi inside a pool of soy sauce, as if a five-year old boy played with his crayon to draw freely on a paper. There was nothing elegant in it.
I was seeing a tough guy who fought tooth and nail with Japanese soldiers in the Pacific some 60 years ago and now was humbling himself in front of a Japanese guy, in order to make him comfortable. I taught him how to hold the sticks, but it was me who was being taught. For the first time in a very long time, I looked forward for growing old. If it was possible to become him, the twilight of life didn’t look so bleak.
When I crawl into my comfortable rigidity (which happens almost every moment) to make myself look “aged gracefully,” thus missing what is most important at the moment, I remember him. He told me—through his actions not words—that the best way to remain cool to the end is to forget about being cool at all and focus on the current moment, especially on what one could offer to others.
Someone will take always take notice of my good (true) intention. And to flip it around, when I try to hide my harmful (true) intention, someone will always sniff it out, too.