Be brave enough to live life creatively. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. You can’t get there by bus, only by hard work and risk and by not quite knowing what you are doing.What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover will be yourself. – Alan Alda

Our small town hosts a monthly art walk where local artists and galleries open their doors to the public, display a variety of art, put on technique demonstrations, and stay open later so families can attend together. I went to my first art walk a few months ago, and we started the night at a gallery. I was looking around at the paintings and other works of art, when I saw a small print that spoke to me. It had the quote above hand-lettered on a background, which was the color of weathered bark, with spiral designs that looked like paths. I knew that I really related to it, and understood it.

I could very easily start jabbering and blabbering on about it, trying to express my feelings about it.  But if I did, this whole post would be confusing. So, I will try to break it down and explain to you how I interpret this quote in my life.

Be brave enough to live life creatively – 
It takes bravery to step out of line, and to go against what society tells you you should be. Living life creatively has little to do with artistic creativity and more to do with the kind of creativity that shapes your life; as if you were a work of art.

You have to leave the city of your comfort –
You can stay where you are and try to fit in and be exactly what they say you should be, but then you will never really find yourself and the world would never get to know the true you. If you stay in your city of comfort, you may never know who you are, and the more time you pretend to be someone you aren’t, you become that person.

and go into the wilderness of your intuition –
Yes, you must step out into the wilderness of your intuition. Yes, you may get attacked by wild animals in the wilderness (those who don’t understand you, and they call for you to come back), but you have to take the risk. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Your intuition only starts out as a wilderness because you don’t know where it can lead you, and it is mostly unexplored. That wilderness only appears scary when viewed from the gates of the city of comfort. However, the more time you spend there, and the more attention you give to listening to, and trusting your intuition, that wilderness starts to seem safer. The wilderness of your intuition will eventually feel like home.

You can’t get there by bus –
If you want to find yourself, you can’t hire someone in your “city of comfort” to take you there. There isn’t a route with scheduled bus stops and paved roads, you have to figure things out yourself. You are unique, like a one-of-a-kind piece of artwork, and no predefined “bus schedule” can get you where you need to be. The bus makes it easier to travel, as others are doing the hard work for you. However, being a passenger on a bus means someone else is in control of where your final destination will be.

only by hard work and risk and by not quite knowing what you are doing –
You have to work for it, and take risks, forcing yourself to walk out into the wilderness. Is it hard? Yes! Acknowledging not only your strengths and weaknesses, but working at how to live with intensities and not be controlled by them, is extremely hard work. Is it risky? Yes! The risks of going into the wilderness are many, such as loneliness, fear, and feelings of not fitting in. Are there instructions? No! When you find you don’t know what you are doing and there is no guidepost or guide, follow the beat of your heart.

What you’ll discover will be wonderful –
Ah, the reward. When you have distanced yourself from the gates of the city of comfort, a new world opens up. You discover, people who “get” you, friends who don’t try to change you, people who understand you and all of your different feelings, and people to talk to that help you grow to your full potential. You will discover your tribe, your family, and many helpers outside your city of comfort.

What you’ll discover will be yourself –
The most important thing you will find will be yourself, even though you will discover many more things that will help you navigate life as well. You have to learn to trust your intuition, and really listen to your inner voice to find yourself. Over time, you will learn to follow the beat of your heart, and trust yourself.

In addition to the above, I found that there is a message even deeper in this quote, hidden inside the words.

You do not have to go into the wilderness alone.

People can help along the way, giving you directions, or facing the “wild animals” with you.

I sometimes feel like I am going into the wilderness alone, but then something happens;

an old friend gets back in touch,

or I stumble upon a comforting message in a book I picked up,

or wise words from the elders find their way into my present,

or I succeed at something I was struggling with,

and these events remind me that I am never alone,

and no one is.

Even if the people that make you feel safe (your tribe, your family, your friends) are far away, they are still with you. Their existence has touched your life and has contributed to you being your true self; they are not apart from you, they are “a part” of you, and this is part of discovering yourself.

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