A few days ago I was watching a documentary on TV about a post-office of Great Britain stationed at the north of Antarctica where the postal workers and penguins live side by side during the summer months. The documentary was more focused on these Gentoo penguins. It detailed their mating cycle, how they struggle to protect their eggs from Skuas, a predator bird trying to snatch the eggs, how much time they spend to feed their chicks, etc. Both male and female parents are responsible for feeding their chicks. Parents take turns and when one parent guards the nest the other parent goes for fishing, and regurgitates food and the chicks eat from their beaks like that. They live very close to their nests for a few months until the chicks are grown enough to walk and venture out from the nest. But one thing that I thought was very interesting is that once the chicks can walk, the parents do not simply give them food like they used to. They start running away with the regurgitated food in their beaks and make the chicks chase them. They do this to teach their offspring to work for the food. Chicks try to outpace their siblings running after their parent, but in the meanwhile they sharpen their motor skills, get stronger and more agile.
I believe that we can draw parallel between this and how we go through our lives. What those Gentoo penguins are innately doing is trying to get their chicks out of their comfort zones – for their sake. Many of us love to be in that zone, where everything is dandy, straightforward and predictable. We become the king of the castle and make sure to remain in that status-quo. Yet instinctively something seems odd with that. When we look back, throughout time, as a species, we have always moved forward. We constantly looked for a new way of life, knowing well that status-quo leads to perish. If we chose the status-quo Homo Sapiens would still be in Serengeti, trying to forage food. Yes, there are no direct circumambient dangers any longer but the “dangers” that threaten our lives have changed shape and form over many years. It is not the lions and bears that can snap us in half any more but it is the psychological barriers that prevent us from the pursuit of a meaningful life. I mean, how long can you stay at the same job doing the same dull thing? How long can you stay at home and watch TV senselessly? Do you really want keep playing that dumb game on your phone during your commute? How about trying to learn new things, read something useful during that time we fritter very generously? How about trying to improve ourselves – as an employee, as a spouse, as a parent, more importantly as a human being and be good and kind, understanding and useful to others? No matter how good we think we have it we must strive to be better. As the proverb goes a rolling stone gathers no moss.
Most people do not push their boundaries for the sake of remaining comfortable yet it leads to complacency, makes us disinterested and paralyzed. Many know the perils of remaining in that zone yet cannot muster up the courage to break out of it, because we are afraid of change. As my favorite philosopher Seneca puts it wisely “It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it is because we do not dare that they are difficult.”
We must change for the better. We must stay out of our comfort zones. Once we realize that we have been going around in circles we need to have the alacrity to break out of it and reach for a better self and a better life. All in all, we are granted with this life, and we should make something out of it.