"A ship is safe in harbor, but that's not what ships are for."
-John A. Shedd
In the last 5 years, I have become obsessed with an app called Fog of World. The concept of this app is very simple; a map of the world is completely covered in fog and it is your job to clear as much of the world as you can. As you uncover more of the world, the app tracks your progress, letting you know when you’ve explored a new country or hit certain achievements. Currently, I have been given the prestigious title of “Adventurer”, achieving a minimum of level 250, but the real treat comes at 500 when I’m dubbed “Pirate King”.
With this app, I have tracked nearly every new place that I’ve been in the last 6 years. Though I feel as though I’m always on the move, this app has shown me the truth, I have a very obvious comfort zone where there is little more fog to be cleared. This comfort zone includes places I frequent so often, that it’s hardly worth pulling out my phone to track it. In spaces like this, there are no new paths being blazed, no fog remaining. I only realize this when I open the app for the first time in weeks or months and realize how small of a circle I’ve been living in since the last time that I tracked my progress.
The good part of this realization is that it will often spark a spontaneous flame of movement. In the last month, I’ve covered thousands of miles. Many of these miles have been cleared of fog before, but they are far from my daily commute. Currently, I’m sitting in a cabin in Tennessee, but last weekend I was exploring Washington D.C. and the weekend before I was in Tennessee again clearing fog from a nearby lake. Trips like these are always fun, but they quickly become cathartic as well when I quickly pull out my phone and turn on the app before tossing it somewhere secure to enjoy the new sights. It is amazing how quickly you can find new places and meet new people when encountering spaces that are unfamiliar.
What this app has really made me think about recently is small living or rather how small of a box we try to fit ourselves into. Small living, however, is about a whole lot more than where you travel to. The concept is easily understood when we talk about where we go physically, but it becomes more difficult when you move into thinking how big of a space we occupy mentally. I can tell you exactly how often I physically explore new places, but it is much more difficult to understand the last time that I explored a new thought or entertained ideas that reside outside my mentality’s daily commute.
Our comfort zones, while cozy and easy, do not lead to growth. They are not what lead us to trust ourselves or others. Trials and exploration are where we learn about ourselves and our world. By clearing the fog, whether by physically moving and mentally challenging ourselves, you not only see new things but you gain experience.