Going Out On a Limb (Or Leaping Off It) – RGAT

20130621-100050.jpg Meet Lima. Lima lives in a tree near one of refugee camps in the mountains of Mae Hong Son. She hates cameras. Point a phone or camera at her and she’ll screech and try and grab it away. Mainly it’s the flash, but she is completely unwilling to get to know you. The first time I offered her my arm, she grabbed my Kindle and began to chew the corner. After a moment of pulling it away from her, I set all of my stuff down out of her reach. From that point, she was completely happy to be my friend.

Lima would bound toward me across the ground, jump on my leg, and run all the way up to my shoulders. Her favorite place to perch was my head, which made it difficult to hold my neck straight. She was a heavy little devil. I had monkey footprints up and down my arm. Then she would sit, immovable, on my shoulder and stare at me while I scratched her head and back. I felt like I’d made a good friend (because she was brilliant, guys, you don’t even know).

Anyway, I’ve ranted about Lima too much. I need to get to my deep, philosophical parallel. I just really loved the monkey, okay?

One of Lima’s favorite pastimes was wrapping the rope she was tied to over a branch, leaping out of her tree, and swinging by her “leash.” She would propel herself towards the other trees by lunging off her trunk and flying through the air. At first, I thought she was struggling, with her limbs flailing everywhere. But Lima is a monkey. The second she wanted, she could grab the trunk, or easily pull herself up to the branch again, untangling herself. Next, I thought she was showing off to me her cool tricks. But Lima didn’t even care that I was standing there while she swung. Finally, I realized she was pushing off to try and grab the smaller branches of a nearby tree. When she reached it, she would clutch the leaves, staying awkwardly suspended in air.

Lima went out on a limb to reach a goal. She couldn’t extend her leash, but she could reach beyond her boundaries to the unattainable. Not only did she go out on a limb, she leaped off of it! Why isn’t the whole of humanity more like my monkey friend, Lima?

When I was staying in the refugee camp, hardly anything was within my comfort zone. I bathed in a stream. I slept on the floor. I stayed off of Facebook. I pulled a fin off of my already cooked fish. I lived in 90 degree weather with no A/C (or fan to speak of, most of the time, since the electricity refused to be consistent). It was amazing! But not within my comfort zone. I think the Karenni people even laughed at us for the silly things we did.

But in an adventure, what good is staying within a comfort zone? Where would the happy ending be if the prince refused to challenge the dragon? What fun would life be without a little risk?

Thailand is my adventure of the moment. I try and make adventures from everything: a trip to the beach, a visit to barren West Texas, a walk downtown, et cetera. (Every time “et cetera,” y’all.) But this was a huge step for me! This was flying around the world! Oceans away from home! For two months! With very few familiar people! To a country with ridiculously spicy food! And very few fluent English speakers! And different cultural norms/expectations/traditions! I mean, holy crap! What was I thinking?!

I was thinking I needed a step out of my comfort zone. I needed to take a leap of faith off the branch in the hope that the result would ultimately be beneficial for me! My life had been too plain, too full of drama. I’d been broken-hearted multiple times in the past year and staying in my boundaries would never have helped me heal. By going on an adventure, I get to experience new things, learn more about myself, and more about the amazing world! You probably all think I’m silly for my over-enthusiasm right now. Yes, Renee. It’s a monkey. Yes, Renee. You’re in a different country. But, hey, the excitement is what makes it easier to take the risk and have a blast and make a difference!

Looking silly doesn’t matter. Feeling foolish doesn’t matter. It’s about living to the fullest. It’s about having fun. It’s about going the distance and beyond. It’s about jumping away from the tree, maybe flailing for a bit, but eventually grabbing the leaf in the distance.

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