Pushing the edge of the envelope… I remember hearing that phrase and wondering, what does that mean? It was years later when I started to fly that I finally learned – in aviation, you have performance graphs, which cover the many facets of your aircraft’s capabilities – maximum speed, maximum altitude, maximum “G” loading, maximum payload etc. On the graph, there is a large, irregular-shaped box, and it’s called “the envelope”, and once you enter temperature, weight, and other items that affect flight, you find out if the point that it all meets falls inside the envelope, or out.
“Inside,” basically assures you of safe flight, given the known capabilities of your airplane.
“Outside,” Uh, you’ll probably crash, or never even take off.
And “pushing the edges of the envelope?” Ah, now you are a test pilot, and are experimenting with/pushing the limits of what your aircraft is capable of.
I have two widow friends who also lost their husbands to cancer (this happened within a year and a half of each other), and in addition to bolstering each other up when needed, we encourage each other to do things that are out of our comfort zone. Push the edges of our own envelopes, if you will. Which, to tell you the truth, can be pretty easy considering that sometimes getting out of bed is a feat, or rather – way “outside” our personal “performance” at a given moment. But a challenge is a challenge anyway you cut it!
I’m lucky to have friends (widows, or not) that have really helped me. I don’t know if I would have struck out so confidently and with so much energy if not for them. And I think that I am starting to be able to think outside the box for myself, entertaining possibilities that I would have dismissed before, and dismissed…for no good reason, ya know?
Why push out of my comfort zone? In a way, I’ve been training myself. I’ve been training myself to embrace change – and doing it in such a clever way that spares me from having to face the painful change that has already happened in my life, which of course is, that I am doing this now on my own. Pushing the edges of the comfort zone can also help to keep loneliness at bay. And it gives me things to look forward to. Best of all, I’m not sitting at home depressed!
Now – to really push out of your comfort zone, it needs to be a bit daring. Here’s a small sample of some of my “pushing the envelope” items:
I’ve traveled on my own. I stopped drinking tea nonstop during the day (Don’t laugh, THIS WAS HUGE). Started playing poker, both home games and casinos. I try to sit in different places in my home. Accepted all invitations possible, even if I didn’t want to go. Painted my bedroom a wild color. Love it! (I’m regretting my closet color, though). Camped in the wilderness on my own. Made a bucket list. Went to see a roller derby game. Went to a strip club, and, oh yeah, wrote a book.
Pushing past my comfort zone has yielded valuable lessons for me. I’ve learned from poker, and I’ve discovered things about myself from my bucket list. And there’s the relief of just having a good time watching roller derby, or waking to a beautiful sunrise in nature. And some times – my efforts yield nothing at all. But, in all cases, I am getting up, and I’m embracing, and learning about what this life may be for me. It like starting from ground zero, you know?
Speaking of zero – as in zero to “162 mph in 3.6 seconds… This last weekend, my two widow friends and I flew to Daytona Beach, Florida, for an action-packed weekend at the Rolex 24 race. It would prove to be another one of our most excellent, epic adventures, and was my first car race. And, as we were to find out…like a lot of envelope-bending endeavors, it would unclog some unexpected things.