With Robin Hood chasing oryxes (oryces?) around Alamogordo last weekend, I did what any sensible woman would do when her boyfriend leaves town: I packed my bags, filled my tank, and got out of Dodge myself.
Instead of Alamogordo, though, I pointed my car north, toward the slightly chillier climes of Alamosa, Colorado. Both town names allude to cottonwoods, which I find kind of poetic.
I went to Alamosa to visit my sister and her husband, knowing full well that the temperatures there would range from -10 to the mid-20s, and also knowing full well that those temperatures would not keep us indoors. These are the kind of people that Erin and Adam are, and I love them for it.
Spending time outside is a non-negotiable for me. Even on days of truly wretched weather, if I don’t go outside at least a little bit — taking out my trash or walking the short distance to and from my apartment complex’s laundry room totally counts, by the way — I feel strange. Almost guilty, as though I’ve let a day go by wasted. Outside equals fresh air; a change in scenery; a release from surrounding walls. It makes my life better.
Of course, “outside” can extend beyond just stepping through a door. Sometimes that kind of outside doesn’t cut it. Sometimes we need to go outside our towns, even outside our countries, whether temporarily or permanently. We need that change. And it doesn’t have to be brand-spanking-new, I-don’t-speak-the-language, what-is-going-on change. It can be familiar change.
I like visiting Alamosa because, other than the fact that I enjoy spending time with family, it’s precisely that: familiar change. I know the route by heart, from optimal departure times to the best place to stop for a restroom break, and I know that, for whatever reason, I’ll sleep like a rock for the duration of my visit, which is nice. Familiar. What’s also nice is the change. Alamosa is smaller, colder, flatter, and slightly higher in elevation than Albuquerque. Running on the dirt trails up there, seeing microherds of deer and passing fields still blanketed by glittery November snow [did I mention it was cold?], it’s hard to cling to worries that originated three and a half hours away.
But “outside” doesn’t have to be geographic at all. Lord knows it’s trendy and heavily encouraged these days to step outside your comfort zone. I’m almost sick of hearing about it, but the thing is, making that step really is beneficial. Inside the comfort zone lies, well, comfort. It’s taking a hot shower and then wrapping yourself in blankets and eating lots of hot food when the weather turns icky. Outside that comfort zone lie adventures, challenges, and previously-undiscovered strength. Outside that comfort zone lie new friendships, great romances, testing yourself, and passing that test. Outside that comfort zone lies dealing with icky weather. Outside that comfort zone lies GROWTH.
Sounds glorious, doesn’t it?
I for one wholeheartedly admit that it’s a concept and practice that I’m still working on.
Wouldn’t it be fabulous if outside was our comfort zone?
I’m happy to report: we successfully ran 12 miles in Alamosa without losing any appendages to frostbite. And Robin Hood got his oryx!