The balcony of my Airbnb hovers over the busy streets of Mile-End in Outremont. As I sit on the landing that is covered with colorful wooden pots and flowers, I feel at peace and think about comfort zones and how often people push their boundaries—especially myself. I know this may sound silly, but to me, this trip and exact moment in time is out of my comfort zone.
While I write on our balcony, flurries of cars, motorbikes, and people pass underneath me playing music, laughing, and talking. Some are friendly and smile as they pass by. This morning, I woke up at 7 (that’s the time my body wakes up now…the joys of the internal clock!) after an interesting night of sleep. Oftentimes, I cannot sleep in new places, and this night was not any different. This feeling of the “unknown” along with being jazzed from the espresso I had at 10 p.m. the night before (oops) was flooding my system as I lied in bed thinking about all of the different ways we stepped out of our comfort zones that day.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, this was Ian’s first time out of the country. I remember as we were driving towards the border, my husband’s attitude changed; he started acting apprehensive and quiet. I remember grabbing his hand, and instead of telling him it will be OK, I just talked about how exciting it was to travel to a new place! Honestly, I felt it too, but some reassurance and talking about our excitement helped. The apprehension faded until we arrived in Montréal and found the place where we’d be staying for the next few days. Don’t get me wrong—the place is darling. It’s exactly what the pictures looked like, and the host has been so helpful the entire process. It was just this: We’ve never done this before. Not only are all of the parking signs in French (good thing we know military time and the days of the week in French!), but we also do not know the area. We don’t know where the good restaurants are. We don’t know where are going. We felt very vulnerable. I kept telling myself that this was what made this trip exciting!
We unpacked and found our route using the map that our host left for us. Our apartment is nestled in a busy area filled with artists, musicians, and beautiful architecture. We enjoyed the walk to the hubbub of restaurants. It was here, however, where we began to pause. We were extremely nervous to approach the restaurants let alone eat there. After looking at many and deciding that we would keep on going to the next one, I decided that we stop at a quaint, Parisian looking restaurant. When we sat down at a table, we noticed that the entire menu was in French. We had no idea what to order (another post to come on this particular topic!) and were embarrassed that we didn’t know the language that well. Our waitress, who spoke English, helped us immensely, but we couldn’t help but feel even more out of our comfort zone. But, Ian and I both tried new food and found ourselves loving the experience, excited for more to come.
On this journey, I can’t help but think of one of my favorite literary quotes. In The Fellowship of the Ring, Frodo recollects something that Bilbo used to tell him about adventures:
“He often used to say there was only one Road; that it was like a great river: its springs were at every doorstep and every path was its tributary. ‘It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door,” he used to say. ‘You step into the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no telling where you might be swept off to.”
Yesterday, I learned that it is OK to break out of your comfort zone. It’s OK to try new things and take safe risks. If we don’t take risks, then we simply aren’t living. When we first arrived and that feeling of overwhelming, “I don’t know where I am” panic arose, we could have just found a hotel and relocated somewhere a little closer to the main part of the city. But we didn’t; we chose to just “be.” Break out of your comfort zones. Explore. Don’t be afraid.
In our apartment, our host has created beautiful masterpieces and paintings that she hangs around her home. They are awe-inspiring and motivational. One of my favorites is something that she sketched. It hangs on a wall right as you walk in the door. I plan to look at it every day while I am here and remember it thereafter as a reminder to let go, just be, and take life as it comes.