You don’t realize the addiction to comfort you have until you’re having one of those days…one of those moments when you’re wet, cold, a little scared…you know? When you realize that your 71 degrees perfect humidity office environment is far behind…the sleep number bed is a 3 inch thermarest on rocky soil…when your 25 degree sleeping bag is going to be put to the test as the air dips below 20….that moment that you’re leaning out over the edge and your butt puckers up…and you know that there is not an end in sight. So you dig deep, tell yourself to suck it up, and you keep going.
You know those moments….you love them, yet you hate them…but it’s where change occurs.
I recently found myself preparing for a motorcycle ride with a bunch of guys. I had a new bike that was designed to take off road punishment as well as the on-road ability to get to the punishment. We were going to ride and camp for four days. We had been planning it for months and as it approached the weather was not looking great. As the countdown approached, it became more and more apparent that we would be wet…and cold.
Now, I love to ride. Love it. It gives me moments of complete bliss.
Camping? Eh…I could take it or leave it
Camping in overnight temperatures of 17 degrees? Um, no.
Riding in the rain? Hell no.
Riding in the rain in the dark? @%&$$# no.
Going on this excursion with gear that literally arrived the night before departure? Beyond reason.
Packing and preparing to start off riding in the rain…to get to off-road trails, to ride off-road in the rain (and mud) to camp out overnight? Beyond my scope to fathom.
Have I mentioned that it’s raining, it’s day 1, and we’re going to be out there 4 days? Talk about starting off uncomfortable…I’m not sure you could have added anything to set me any further off center.
Day 1 was riding in the rain to get to off road trails, learning how to maneuver the trails…and mud (did I mention it was raining?) and working in teamwork. Now, when you ride bikes that are a little heavier with road worthy tires and 40-60 lbs worth of gear and water (and bourbon) the bikes do not behave easily sometimes and people, you fall. A lot. So you and the guys around you really have to rely on each other to plot courses, set the line to which others follow, and when you fall, and you will often, we all stopped to pick each other up.
All was going well the first day…good riding getting done, we’re all learning and getting our trail legs under us, and then there was a slight change that was immediately noticed as we ran alongside a river. Josh rain his bike through what should have been a puddle…and the mud was so deep it stopped him and his bike. Josh stepped off and the bike stood straight up on its own. This was the start of the next hour and a half of everyone struggling through deep mud, falls, and getting destroyed physically as we pushed and pulled our way through the silt along the river line.
Here’s the kicker. Once we were through this, we got to the place on the map marked “DEEP WATER”. It was a river (big creek) crossing. It was already normally marked DEEP WATER, but it had been raining (I know I’ve mentioned it before, right?) If the water was too deep for the bikes to cross, we would have to double back through the mud and find another way.
Did I mention it was starting to get dark?
Peter had gotten across but barely and after scouting, debating, planning, and just short of a mutiny, we ended up crossing just up from the trail. One at a time with some spectacular Evil Kenevil stunts, we crossed. You see, you had to come down the embankment, drop into the water, cross it without letting the rocks throw you off the bike, then UP the steep, sandy embankment on the other side. Crossing the river was a feat of the trip all on its own.
Once on the other side, a minor bike repair made, we were faced with dwindling daylight and the setting in of more rain. Did I mention the temperature was dropping quickly? So it’s not warm and after just a few miles I’m shaking. We decide to get a couple hotel rooms (thank GOD) and set our stuff on ever surface imaginable to try to get stuff to dry, plop down in beds and try to sleep.
As the hours passed and I could not sleep because of the heat, the humidity in the room, the wonderful smell of 4 men who have been working and sweating and wet gear and boots (the same wet gear we would have to put on in the morning) …as I lay there pondering what could possibly happen to top this….I plotted my exit from this massively uncomfortable excursion I had found myself on.
I got probably 4 hours of sleep.
END OF DAY ONE.
But an interesting thing happened along day 1. I survived. I guess that part’s obvious, right? I mean, I’m writing this, you didn’t get the facebook notice that I had passed, and…well, I’m still here.
The next 3 days we were camping in VERY cold night conditions (it snowed a little on us) and we rode over rocks, roads, trees, and trails in 3 states. We rode down gravel roads, down steep embankments, and down ravines. We then road UP steep ravines, up strip mines, and up narrow passes. It was freezing cold, it was sweatingly hot. We had chains that came off, parts torn off, broken windshields, shattered fairings, and batteries that died. We pulled bikes out of the muck and pushed started bikes to get started. We burned coal, burned miles, and maybe burned a few years off our lives. We lacked sleep, water, comfort, and sometimes common sense.
On this trip, the word “uncomfortable” kept coming back to me. It’s times like this that I’m sure that the God’s saying something to me. His word for me was ‘uncomfortable’ and He wanted me to ponder it…he wanted me to BE in it…HE wanted me to be pushed and stand in cold mud, ride without clear vision, look at the face of a hill I had no idea if my body and bike were capable of climbing…He led me into it.
Comfort had become an idol in my life…and I needed to put it on the sacrificial alter.
We are masters of avoiding the uncomfortable conversation…avoiding the workout…avoiding the unconditioned air…we want to sit in comfortable chairs and set our lives up with smooth rides and have enough money and things to anesthetize our inconvenience out of life. But what you don’t realize is that you stop growing.
There are things that don’t happen unless you take comfort off the top priority of your life. Growth occurs beyond the edge of your comfort. Said another way, growth requires discomfort.
If comfort is an arc where you are the center point, inside the arc, you control it…you manipulate it…you WANT to live in it and do everything to keep from going outside the arc. Funny thing is, that as I grow older, I find that I want to live further and further from that line of discomfort…closer and closer to my point, which makes me more and more comfortable…..which makes me more and more self-centered. The more self-centered I become, the more I try to make myself the center of everything….and the more I am miserable when it doesn’t happen.
Being self-centered is not the way Christ designed me….He says I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I cannot be that person if all my life is spent trying to keep my comfort…living inside the arc.
If I want change, if I want adventure, if I want to live in adventure, then it is ESSENTIAL to be uncomfortable. Being uncomfortable is where you are stretched, learn you have new capabilities…where you grow in perseverance and character.
Often times on the trail, we would get to an obstacle where we would dismount and look hard at it. Most of the time a few members of the pack would point and plan the best option…but there was always that first person who had to go…that first person who showed us it was possible. Once it was proven to be possible, everyone went, whether they thought they were capable or not. We all surprised ourselves at times…but we all lived.
And we’ll do it again.
Here’s my point…do you want change? Do you want your relationship with God or wife or son to change? Do you want to lose that weight? Stop that addiction? Get a start on a new job or career? Do you want LIVING in your life? Do you want this year to be different that the last 2 or 3 or 10 years? Do you want change?
Then something is required of you.
And you know just what that is if you’re honest.
…and it requires you to be uncomfortable.