Fall. I love it. Today I kicked my way through a ginormous pile of vibrant neon-yellow leaves like a 5-year-old on a sugar high. It was marvelous.
On that note, today I thought I might write about the literal meaning of the word “fall.” Leaves. Chai. Maybe about falling down the stairs when you think you’re on the last stair but there’s actually just one more. Chubby babies learning to walk and tipping over. I don’t know. I just really love chubby babies.
Anyway, I changed my mind. For this week’s theme (which I am so incredibly honored to contribute to), I want to write about figuratively falling-- falling into routine. If there’s one thing in this world I vehemently oppose, it’s routine.
We all have to do it; we get up in the morning, we brush our teeth (if we have time; what’s up, Listerine?), we go to school or work, we come home, we might do something of our choice for an hour or so, and we crash. Routine is safe. It’s comfortable. It’s normal. And sometimes, we all need a little bit of continuity to keep us sane.
But too much of it, I feel, is intensely dangerous.
I had the biggest slap in the face the other day. I consider myself a dreamer-of-lofty-dreams, and I like to think that someday I’ll be able to say I achieved them. I truly believe in myself and in everyone around me that our dreams are always within our reach if we wish them to be. I’ve always thought like that - until recently. I’ve found myself becoming complacent. Inexplicably complacent. It’s so easy to stuff away our whimsical dreams into our little box full of Maybes and Laters. It’s so easy to tell yourself that you have everything you need right where you are.
And maybe you do. And that’s fine. Wherever and whatever your dream is, whether it’s at home or on the moon, I sincerely hope you pursue it until your final days. But if you realize you have something else you want to do that might not be right where you are, something else your heart longs for, you don’t - you can’t - forget about it. That realization can consume you to the point that you wish it would simply disappear so you could return to your regular, everyday life.
This week, while I was mid-complacency, I happened across a sneaky little book called The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I love reading, but normally it’s just a fun hobby. This book changed my life in a matter of 163 pages. The pages wrapped their fingers around my shoulders and shook me until I listened. The whole plotline bases itself around a character who makes excuses for why he can’t pursue his dream when he knows full well he could. He doubts himself along his journey, but positive forces continue to pervade his everyday life until he finds his way.
I underlined nearly every word in that book. That character is no character - it’s me. Everything that character was, I was. Excuses? Got ‘em. Terror? Got it. Doubt? Got it. Having a life parallel to a character’s is sometimes the most exciting and most convicting thing all at once. But, in Thoreau’s famous and powerful words, “how many men’s lives have been changed by a single book?” Somewhere deep down, I knew I was falling into a routine life.
The Alchemist screamed it in my face.
The truth is, I would be happy if I stayed where I am. Safe, secure, and happy. And comfortable.
I don’t like being comfortable - it means I’m stationary. I feel like I’ve stopped growing; that’s how I know I’m falling into routine. I feel like that dude in the Matrix who has the choice between the red pill and the blue pill. If I take the blue one, I stay at home in my quiet, safe bubble. If I take the red one, I will try to venture out in the world. I might pursue some of my crazy dreams like I posted a week ago on my home blog: I will try to publish a book, to Zorb in New Zealand, to eat a muffin on top of a mountain (because alliteration, that’s why). And I might fail! I might not be secure anymore. But those are the risks you take when you step out of routine.
I believe that risk is worth it. I can’t fall into a routine any longer. I need to chase my heart, follow my ideas. I want to make a difference. It doesn’t need to be ostentatious; I don’t need to be seen - I need to be heard. It runs in my blood. It’s a fire in my lungs. I need to break loose. It’s who I am. I am so thankful that the words of Paulo Coelho were able to shatter my protective layer.
So, when I look ahead into the once again blank and foggy future, I am terrified. Invigorated, bubbling, and sweaty-handed. I am overwhelmed with possibility. I am uncomfortable.