Statements like life begins at the end of your comfort zone are ubiquitous in our culture, as are other dime-store philosophies like embrace fear and the ever-annoying cry of YOLO! It’s easy to not hear their message, to dismiss the musings as cliché. But clichés become clichés for a reason: because something in their essence rings true. If no one agreed or connected with the message of a cliché, well, it wouldn’t have been repeated en mass to the point of overuse, right?
Which brings me to the motivation for this blog. I’ve always loved to travel, and I’ve always loved to write. There are a million reasons I could give for loving traveling: experiencing another culture, perhaps another language, meeting people, getting reflective time, experiences unusual to your regular life, experiencing a different way of life, seeing humanity in all its shapes and forms…I could keep going. I’ve also broadened my view of what traveling really is; my definition of “travel” is simply whenever you’re not home – and especially whenever you try something new. When you travel beyond your own personal boundaries.
What I realized long ago was that I love the NOW-NESS of traveling. (Sure, it’s a word!) You are forced to navigate a new place (even if it’s just a few towns over from your own), to try out a new coffee shop or bar or restaurant or book store or clothing store or whatever-kind-of-store you’re into. Traveling naturally pushes you into seeking out both a newcomer’s experience (Hey, let’s go to the art museum! And take that tour! And see the baseball stadium!) and the secrets of locals (But I want *real* Mexican food/Japanese food/Thai food. I want off the beaten path!). You want to see the best of the place you’re visiting, so you see it with fresh, eager eyes. To really love traveling means to feel your “aliveness” quivering in your bones.
And recently, I realized how true the “life begins at the end of your comfort zone” adage is. It’s true for the same reason as why I love traveling: when you do something you are afraid of — taking a dance class or a skiing lesson or going on a pub crawl with strangers or doing that open mic — you are intensely in the moment (well, if you’re doing it right, that is). And whenever you are intensely in the moment, you are living, pure and simple. You find peace and joy and excitement and purpose and compassion and every other good thing out there when you are in the moment.
Which is why I’ve named this travel blog “Seeking Sati.” Sati is a word that means awareness or mindfulness and is one of Buddhism’s Seven Factors of Enlightenment. My way of seeking sati is traveling and doing things that scare me just a little bit. These things pull me, blissfully, into the now; they wake me up to the sights and smells and tastes and textures swirling around me. I hope it inspires you to find your own version of sati.