He opened the door with a wide and welcoming smile, and we instantly fell into a couple hours of trading stories, life philosophies, itineraries, and what drives our adventuresome spirit. Dave is truly a marvelous human being (follow his journey here). He's done two stints in the Peace Corps (Liberia and Vanuatu), sailed across the Atlantic (in a similar sized sloop to Feather, the boat I lived on as a kid), and is now 1/3 way through a 25,000 mile excursion around the United States via hiking, biking, and paddling. Let's see if I can remember his pathway...
He's already hiked up the Appalachian Trail, biked from Maine to Key West, walked from there to the panhandle of florida, biked to Michigan: so far, a hearty 8,000 miles in. His plan is to continue biking from Michigan to Minnesota, paddle the Mississippi, walk from New Orleans to the Grand Canyon in New Mexico, bike to the continental divide and hike up to the source of the Missouri River, paddle down the Missouri to Kansas City, bike to California, walk up the Pacific Crest Trail (or something like that, I hope I haven't butchered it too badly). So exciting and impressive! When he completes the journey, he will have been the oldest person to complete the "triple crown" (AT, continental divide, PCT) over the age of 70.
We traded tips and information about the preparation we've done for paddling. He was impressed with my preparation and how well my Kickstarter is going, and super supportive in general. It's wonderful to know that he and I, even if we're a few days ahead or behind one another, will be keeping in touch along the way and looking out for one another. He also gave me a copy of his new book, The Earth Project, and inscribed it "Alyssum, my new paddling buddy. Yahoo! -Dave".
I loved what Dave said about expanding our comfort zone. He was talking about how while he and I are very comfortable in nature, many people think what we're doing is crazy because it is out of their comfort zone. For him, he said, when he's in nature, he expects to be a part of it, so things like extreme heat or cold, dampness or dryness, bugs, etc don't bother him (me too). He pointed out that the more you put yourself in situations that are just slightly outside your comfort zone, the more comfortable you become with them, and that's how you expand your comfort zone and tolerance. He said he likes to put himself in situations where he's just a little bit uncomfortable, because expanding one's comfort zone is personal growth. The opposite is true, too, he reflected. People who stay inside with the air conditioning, for instance, might have their comfort zones contract so that something as simple as opening the door (and being faced with the heat and humidity) is out of one's comfort zone. He mentioned that he's very comfortable in nature, but he's quite uncomfortable around negative people, and that that's the next comfort zone he's focusing on purposefully expanding--dealing with and becoming more comfortable with difficult people. I related to this philosophy and liked the visual he was miming with his hands while discussing the phenomenon. What comfort zones are you currently challenging?