Ever since I was a kid I’ve occasionally had a kind of recurring fantasy: leaving everything and everyone I know behind and either surviving in the wilderness or moving somewhere far away and completely different.
Often that fantasy is preceded by recognizing some kind of lack in myself or something I want to improve. I like the idea of being able to go work on myself alone for a while. In fact anyone who’s ever gone on a retreat to figure out a problem or find a spiritual solution probably knows exactly what I’m talking about.
In “Imagine: How Creativity Works” there are a few examples of how changing your scenery or situation can spark a moment of ingenuity that enables you to overcome an obstacle or even just get your creative juices flowing. The idea is that if you remove yourself from your day-to-day situation you (at least temporarily) break free from the preconceptions and assumptions you have made about yourself, or that others have made and you’ve chosen to believe.
The problem is that eventually you have to come back to “the real world” and get back to whatever life you live. Hopefully you can start integrating some of the things you’ve realized or learned, though that’s certainly not always the case. There are a few great teachers out there trying to help people bridge the gap between these amazing realizations and how you apply them in day to day life, but it’s still a difficult journey.
I heard a great story recently that acts as a metaphor for life: Playing soccer while cross country skiing.
A young lady I spoke with recently was reminiscing about her experience in college on a cross country skiing team.
She had been cross country skiing for most of her life, so joining the team when she got to college seemed like a relative no brainer.
There were people of every skill level on the team ranging from complete n00bs to competitive skiers. They had drive, team spirit, and a real desire to get out and ski, but the one thing they lacked was… Snow. In Michigan. Clearly this was a tad unexpected.
So to while away their time the team decided to play soccer in the muddy, slushy fields. They played for several weeks before they got any snow and even then it was just enough to make the games more interesting but not enough to ski on.
When they finally got enough snow to ski on they’d gotten quite accustomed to playing soccer and didn’t want to give it up. Of course this was a cross country skiing team, not a soccer team, so they couldn’t keep playing soccer instead of skiing.