Years ago, as a camp counselor, my eyes were closed as we sat in a prayer circle before bed when suddenly my campers began to scream. It was pretty cute, in hindsight. A large fist-sized beetle flew around their heads and the ceiling, and of course none of us really knew what it was or if it was harmful. At that moment, I, the seventeen-year-old protector of eight very young girls had to suck it up and get that thing out of the cabin so we, and the other campers around us, could sleep. To be honest, it scared the crap out of me, but I think I grabbed a broom and dustpan and somehow managed, to my own surprise, to shoo it out of the room before the patients at the mental ward five miles away started to wonder what was happening.
“Aunt Abby, you’re so brave!” Did someone actually say that? My heart beat a mile a minute, but I did what needed to be done, the girls slept well that night, and we all somehow respected me a little more after that for that very tiny moment of “bravery.”
I feel the same way sometimes in my adult, everyday life. Of course, the everyday life of a performer like myself who lives in New York City is admittedly, in some ways, different than many others. Regardless, my heart beats just as quickly when I reaudition every year for the Metropolitan Opera, a gig that matters very much to me. Sometimes it does the opposite, and I feel myself barely breathing when I force my hand to make the humbling phone call to lower my student loan payments or make an appointment I don’t want to make.
I have made a lot of excuses in my life, born of the idea that bravery equals fearlessness, that courage is somehow a hereditary trait that in certain situations, I lack. Merriam-Webster defines courage as “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.” We all have fear from time to time. We all have comfort zones in which we prefer to rest. Personally, I love staying in bed under my warm blankets in the winter, but I have the strength to venture out of my warm apartment, and I intend to use it.
I might have called this blog “Frak the Comfort Zone,” since that is exactly what I intend to do. This is a challenge for me, and perhaps for my readers, to do something every day that surpasses my comfort level, scares me, makes my breathing patterns slow in discomfort, or causes my heart to race. Oh yes, this will suck sometimes, but I have every intention of living my life bravely from this day forward. Even if it means I have to skydive to find the wisdom that I will only find by embracing the daily changes that scare me.
Today I started a blog.