There is a great routine in one of the Bugs Bunny cartoons where Yosemite Sam is harassing Bugs, as usual. Bugs draws a line in the sand and dares Sam to step over it. Sam takes the dare, so Bugs draws another line. Again, Sam steps over the line…this bit continues until Bugs draws the last line and Sam steps over it, falling over the side of a cliff. No matter how many times I see this, I laugh! Unlike, in the cartoon, how many times have we come to a line drawn in the sand and are afraid to step over it? It is almost as if the line is a boundary we are afraid to cross, or a fear of leaving our comfort zone.
I had the experience where I was traveling during the anniversary of my mother’s death. It is customary in the Jewish religion to attend a service on the anniversary of a parent, sibling or child’s passing. Usually, I meet up with my father and my brothers to attend the service, but this time, I was away on business in a foreign country. I did a little research, sent out an email and found a place for me to go near the office I was working out of in Hong Kong. My personal comfort zone would be to do nothing and avoid going to an unfamiliar place, even if I knew that I would regret not going. I went in the evening at the given time. I stepped out of my comfort zone into a room of what must have served as a comfort zone for the people there. They barely acknowledged that there was a Wayne in the room. I asked for a book. I am in a foreign speaking country, and now in a room of Hebrew speaking people and I am the only English-speaking person. I received no pleasantries, not even a minimal inquiry such as where are you from, what brings you to our temple – AWKWARD!
I left a bit downtrodden after that. I knew that I had to go again in the morning, but not there. When I called home, I was ready to throw in the towel. Debbie reminded me why I went in the first place, and that going to the service was something I wanted to do. She was right (again…). The next morning, I went to a different place and had a different experience. I was greeted by the Rabbi and he asked questions such as where are you from, what brings you to our temple. He even asked across the room if I would be in town Friday night. He paid attention to me, made me feel welcome, comfortable. Afterward, they invited me to join them for breakfast. I stuffed some extra money in their donation box.
I realize that I had some difficulty stepping outside my comfort zone, but I also lost focus as to what I wanted to do. I almost let someone make me feel uncomfortable enough not to pursue my goal. Yosemite Sam did not pause before crossing the line. I not only paused, but almost chose not to cross it. In the end, I am glad I did.