A Pirate’s Life for Me

We attended a showing of Pirates of the Caribbean 5 back in Munich. Though our group was relatively underwhelmed, Cole and I were ecstatic. One of the elements of the story revolved around a map, a map that no man can read. Within that map however, there was some uncharted territory. Uncharted territory is a pirate’s nightmare. No matter how fearless they seem, even a pirate fears that which they don’t know. You could even say they’re out of their comfort zone. Raise the Jolly Roger, Cultural Routes, uncharted waters ahoy.

I’ve always been quite frugal. My parents raised me by verbal teaching and example to save money and be conscious, and that you really don’t need what you think you do. Frugality is a comfort zone of mine. Interlaken presented a variety of adventures that, when it comes down to it, probably are once in a lifetime opportunities. I’ve never been in Switzerland with a brochure of expensive adventures to partake in and an array of close friends surrounding me. I wasn’t uncomfortable or afraid of the excursions themselves, just the spending. I kind of have a mental block with spending significant amounts of money. When I have a potential purchase to make, I force myself to wait and see if this is something I truly want to purchase or invest in. As I’m sure you’ve heard, money doesn’t grow on trees. However, it does grow as the grass grows and the water flows. (I work back home mowing yards and lifeguarding at local pools). Choosing to spend a couple hundred Swiss francs on a couple hours of activities did make me a tad uncomfortable, but I absolutely enjoyed canyoning with dear friends, backflipping off a zip line and cannon balling into a waterfall of icy cold Swiss Alps glacier water, then flying above it all with my paragliding guide Andreas. Though I hope to not make a lifestyle of spending, I guess it’s ok to spend a little bit.

My mother can inform you that I was not always (scratch that, “never”) the most adventurous eater growing up. I generally have a pretty specific diet in general that I like to stick to. It consists of simple, generally healthy foods including chicken, beef, turkey, potatoes, rice, granola, and some vegetables here and there. These compose the dominant portions of my meals. However, in our European travels, I have tried a few foods that are foreign (previously foreign to me at least): tomatoes (not in the form of ketchup or spaghetti sauce), mussels, anchovies, a variety of sausages, some other shellfish I don’t recognize, a very strong Swiss cheese, balsamic vinegar, and gelato. This may be a shallow comfort zone to be breaking, but I would definitely consider my food horizons to be expanded.

On a more personal note, I’m not the most modern-lingo-literate individual around. I generally feel I’m playing catch up on what the new saying is from “fake news” to “shook” to the names of a variety of modern dance moves that I also don’t perform. Where do these come from? Social media, which I’ve kind of ridden myself of except for the weekly check-in to see if school organizations have posted anything I need to be aware of. There’s a beautiful world of memes out there and small joking sayings that I’m not up on because I’ve found my life to be more productive and enjoyable without social media. However, as a man in the modern day, I understand and accept the self-imposed consequences of perhaps being a tad out of the loop; it is my choice at the end of the day. Sometimes I just miss the joke and really, really try to figure out where the humor is. Haha. It happens. Also, I’m personally not a big swearing/cussing guy, which the young Europeans I have interacted with seem to do more than their American counterparts. I just don’t like hearing that kind of language in every sentence.

Comfort zones exist for a reason: because we let them. Comfort zones are a difficult topic for me because I’m not totally sure how I feel about them. Some exist to keep us safe, some exist because it’s easier that way. 

However, I’d like to think that it’s possible to make your comfort zone portable (everything these days is portable, ya know? Back in my day, the telephone had to stay inside the house). The food eating comfort zone is what it is, we’ll keep working on that. As for comfort zones related to character and interpersonal interactions, if you can exhibit honesty and integrity to your own values in all circumstances, you can curb any feelings of discomfort you may experience and bring comfort with you wherever you go. Put into practice, if you can chat with the Muslim woman from Afghanistan on the train from Munich to Interlaken with authentic curiosity and respect in your heart, there is no reason to be uncomfortable. I believe you can carry your comfort zone with you. What can be more comfortable than striving to be yourself and exhibiting respect for others? Yes, there will still be discomfort in life, and even areas that present a statistically higher proportion of discomfort, but perhaps life is about learning to become comfortable outside of comfort zones, to become comfortable being uncomfortable. You can’t fix the world, you can’t fix the things that make you uncomfortable, but you can modify the attitude with which you approach uncomfortable circumstances.

A pirate’s life takes him places he doesn’t know. The sea itself holds mysteries and dangers all around. However, a pirate knows his ship and is comfortable wherever he goes because of it. You can sail the 7 Seas without having a clue where you are or where you’re going, but if you have your ship, if you know yourself, you’ll always find comfort and and safety even through the storms. The sea calls my name, until next time, mates. 

-(Captain) Joshua