Color Outside the Lines
By Z Zoccolante
As kids, we’re taught to keep our crayons in the lines. We’re taught to stay in our lanes. We’re taught acceptable things to say or ways to be. We’re taught external boundaries.
There’s an exercise that’s conducted with people from America and kids from villages in Africa. There’s a piece of paper with 9 dots in a square pattern. The goal to connect all the dots using 4 straight lines, and you can’t pick your line up off the page. People in America struggle to do this; a lot of them can’t figure it out. Yet kids in villages around the world solve this in minutes. Because these kids are not afraid to venture outside the boundaries of the nine dots.
We don’t even realize how our culture shapes us. Perhaps this is why I’ve always been fascinated by people who mark their own paths, who travel without knowing their next destination, who treat the world as their personal workshop.
I’m drawn towards people who travel the world in a backpack, simply for adventure to see something new and different, to feel the wind through their fingers, the night sky spread above them like a blanket full of white pinprick stars.
I’m drawn also because it’s expansive and wonderful and you never know what could happen and it’s beautiful and terrifying. My friend is in Greece right now. She speaks 3 languages and yet she tells me that she had to use her nonverbal to buy fruit and vegetables at the market. A friend ventured down every single road in the new place he moved, just to get lost and see every new part.
When we wander we find new things and parts of ourselves. We begin to discover who we are.
When my three friends and I were backpacking in Europe years ago, we’d play this game. We’d be on a train and pick a random day in our journals and we’d take turns reading our entry to each other. It was fascinating because we were with each other the entire travel (except for showers and bathroom breaks), but we’d write about completely different things, ways we felt, things we’d noticed that slipped by the others.
There’s the age-old question – If your house were burning to the ground, what would you save? (this being that your family, friends, and pets are all safe and sound outside). What do you save?
What if you had a first date and had to show the other person every photo in your phone? What would they learn about your values, and what’s important to you?
Adventure might not be traveling around the world. It might be playing with your toddler in the backyard or the park. It might be the books you read or the thoughts that dance between your ears all day. It just might be traveling the world, getting out of all your comfort zones and not knowing what the next moment will bring.
To most of us, this feels scary because we don’t know if we’re safe. Not knowing is a new territory. Not knowing can make you aware of the present moment or all the ways in which you attempt to hide.
What does coloring outside the lines look like for you? How are you leaning against the parameters of your comfort zone and stretching it like a rubberband.
What is it that you truly seek, long for, hope to find? How present are you in this moment of your life?
If right now, we only have this one life. Maybe play a little. Color outside the lines, whatever that means to you.
Do your best version of whatever you think that is ;) ;) (some of you will get this joke)
Play. Adventure. Wander. Color everything. Why not?
Find my book Throwing Up Rainbows, in print and Kindle, on Amazon