The Challenge

I spend too much time on Twitter. If you see me tweeting, you may notice that I’m proud of what I call the “restaurant challenge.” Last year I decided to try twenty new restaurants, and did. It was fun. This year I’m doing it again. Two down already!

Why is this a challenge? That’s an interesting rhetorical question.

It seems like just going to a new place to eat about twice a month would too easy (at least if you have transportation, and live where there are some restaurants, like I do, near Boston). It’s not running five miles a day or singing in front of hundreds of people! It’s not facing your greatest fears!

It is facing some small fears, though, and sometimes small fears are very significant. Some of the time, I think we overlook small resistances and anxieties, thinking they’re no big deal, on one level, but- on another level, I think letting those small anxieties go has a lot to do with not facing fear. We ignore those things for a reason, not because we are essentially cowardly, but because cowardice is a big part of everyone’s pattern of managing the difficulties of life. Everyone has a difficult life, even if they are relatively comfortable. In a way, this seems unfair: people with enough food and shelter should have easy lives, but somehow this isn’t how the mind works. Feeling guilty or denying your own pain won’t erase that fact.

So, trying new things is challenging because it involves going out of the comfort zone. I have reached the point where I’m less surprised by how, again and over and again, my comfort zone seems to be so small, so easily tensed up. Even trying a new brand of cereal can lead to unnecessary deliberation and hesitation. How can I aspire to being fearless if I waffle over brands of cereal? It takes time.

I like the restaurant challenge because it is not too hard, but it is a stretch, and it is enjoyable, usually- you get to eat. Who doesn’t like to eat?

“We prefer to hide in our personal jungles and caves. When we hide from the world in this way, we feel secure.” Chogyam Trungpa, Shambhala

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