We’ve all been hearing since March 2020 that we need to be cautious.
We need to wear masks around people from outside our household, we need to stay six feet apart, we need to wash our hands for the duration of “Happy Birthday," and, heck, we all just need to stay home where it’s safe!
Don't take unnecessary risks!
I’ve been following these directions (for the most part) and, thankfully, I’ve remained healthy.
But my subconscious has begun to rebel. The other day, I found myself far less cautious in one of my dreams.
I was at a local mom and pop specialty shop that sold high-quality Italian meats and cheeses. I saw other people in the store not wearing masks. Why aren't they wearing masks, I thought? Wait, I'm not wearing a mask either. Why am I not wearing a mask? Did COVID "end?" Am I dreaming? Is that gorgeous-looking sample of sliced steak that the deli owner is proffering -- fully exposed to human respiratory droplets -- safe to eat?
I ate it. It was delicious. And I woke up to tell about it.
After my room came into focus and I got my bearings, I quickly reviewed the scene before it evaporated. As I delved into the meaning, a realization surfaced:
Has the abundance of caution I've been taking to protect my health seeped into other areas of my life?
Am I currently not taking risks that I should be taking?
I decided the dream was a wake-up call.
Nothing is certain. That was true before COVID and it will remain true when we emerge from this surreal chapter. We delude ourselves whenever we believe we have control over future outcomes. But, at the same time, we need to take action toward our goals in order to make any progress.
And going for goals, well, that involves a measure of risk-taking. Always has, always will. And, if we don't go for our goals, we don't get to enjoy the small wins along the way.
And that’s what life is ultimately. A path paved with potential risks and potential small, happy wins. That's how I see it anyway.
My dream reminded me that, while I need to be mindful about COVID risks, I need to be conscious about inadvertently allowing "an abundance of caution" to serve as a blanket template for how I live my life.
An abundance of caution does not provide space for abundance.
You, too. Remember the goals you’ve stayed healthy for. Keep on keeping on in your quest to make them a reality.
A thrilling path filled with risks -- and abundance -- is before you.
Check out this book by Danielle LaPorte and this podcast hosted by Ilise Benun for awesome inspiration about taking risks in your creativity and work goals.
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I recently went on an amazing two-week adventure in Europe. What made it amazing is not as obvious as you might think. Yes, I saw beautiful sights, ate delicious local cuisine, and savored that sense of freedom and perspective one experiences far away from the day-to-day cares and concerns that typically feel sooooooo important. But it was the totality of the trip, and all the creativity and diligence I invested in planning it, and what I learned (and re-learned) about myself by traveling solo that brought the greatest joy and rewards.
This isn't the first time I'd been a solo traveler. The first time I traveled alone was on a 10-week backpacking trip through Europe in my mid-20's. All that I had available for guidance and communications back then was a dog-eared Let's Go book and an AT&T phone card: no cell phone, no social media, no widespread internet in those days. And certainly no WiFi. Email existed, but I wasn't an early adopter.
That backpacking odyssey helped to shape a core part of me. While the overall trip went really well, some things happened to me that were less than ideal, or I made less than ideal choices that got me into a couple of less than ideal situations, and I had to figure my way out of them, language barriers and all.
And I did. And everything turned out fine. I learned how to adapt when a plan falls through. That there's no point in getting upset. You can always figure out a Plan B, C, D, E, or F, and then you just make the best of that new plan. And more often than not, that Plan C or Plan F? It often turns out to be just as good -- or maybe even better -- than Plan A would have been.
I've traveled solo to some foreign places since that epic backpacking adventure. However, the last time was back in 2010. A weeklong trip to Paris, a city where I've traveled numerous times over the years, and have some command of the language. So, as this latest trip finally approached, despite my previous travel experiences, I was admittedly a little anxious. I was going to be staying with family in Vienna, so I knew I had support there, but for the other two legs of my trip -- Budapest and Prague -- I knew no one, and certainly didn't know the languages.
And, again, everything turned out fine (even with a handful of mishaps along the way). Better than fine.
Like my backpack excursion all those years ago, I planned everything on my own. But now, with cell phones, the internet, social media and email, everything was a lot simpler this time around. Although, there is also a lot more information out there to sort through, so it's easy to get overwhelmed. I soon learned to do research up to a point, and then just make a choice, and be okay with the results -- end of story. (Another traveling lesson that will now apply to other areas of my life!)
Perhaps the most surprising thing I discovered about myself on this trip was that I am not addicted to travel. I thought there would be a good chance that I'd be despondent when I got back to New York City. But when I arrived home, despite all the experiences I will remember for a lifetime -- I was really glad to be home. Glad to get back to my life, my family, my friends and all the mysteries and messes that lie ahead.
I love travel and experiencing new adventures -- especially on my own. This trip reminded me of that. I've begun making a list of cool places around the world I've never been to, and I plan to visit at least one new place every year. Just knowing that I have the freedom and fortitude to travel solo, if and when I choose to, well, that was this trip's most valuable souvenir.
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