Coming Out of Autopilot

Do you know that feeling when you switch gears on a bike to make it harder to pedal, and you can go way faster? I feel like I have been on that easy gear for the last two months, leisurely pedaling away and making slow progress, but not learning or growing the way I do when faced with the unanticipated moments of challenge I face every day that I spend “away.”

54 hours ago, I was in San Francisco. Between then and now I have spent 19.5 hours airborne, 3 hours wandering airports, and 7.5 hours exploring the streets of Dubai and Yerevan. I have gotten locked behind a broken door in a hostel bathroom, climbed through an abandoned Armenian apartment building to get off of a precarious hillside above a river, had chai with Dubai’s Indian and Pakistan migrant workers at Dubai’s massive port, walked in on a young couple in a decrepit mountaintop mansion overlooking Armenia’s most famous viewpoint, and have gotten lost more times than I can count. All in 54 hours. I missed this, the feeling that even a few short hours in a new place can move you when everything is new, different, unexpected.

In the air, besides running, is the space I do my best thinking. It is not always focused, or ‘productive,’ but it allows me to take the hours needed to ask who I am, and what is the life I am leading each and every day.

Back on a plane, heading into the unknown, my inherent humanness has gone into another gear. What is interesting is not this harder gear I am just right now shifting back into, I have written about it in the past, like here or here. The part that is blowing my mind a little bit right now? What gear have I been in the past two months, living a comfortable life in North America? It’s scary to think about, but have I been cruising by on autopilot? It’s been an incredible two months, don’t get me wrong, but it has been comfortable, without the complexity that makes me come alive.

I know this may not make sense. I love the time I spend in San Francisco, the adventures, the community I have found, working surrounded by a team of inspiring people. But this gear shift is real, deep inside me, and it’s hard to explain.

I think this distinction, this gear shift, this is the difference for me between a life based in the comfort of North America to a life based wherever my suitcase is sprawled open on the floor. This is a feeling I like, even though it is uncomfortable, scary.

I will no longer know exactly what to do, what my days look like, the conversations I will have, or what challenges I will have to deal over my next month of sprawled-out suitcase living. It’s scary, but it makes me come alive. Shifting the gears on my rusty old bicycle, it’s time to really start moving.


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