Finding the Courage to Be Uncomfortable

Vincent Van Patten

Photo by Daniel Brosch on Unsplash

It was the time of day when you could see a crisp outline of your breath against the darkening sky every time you spoke.

Dusk in Berlin.

I was on my way to meet a few friends of mine in Kreuzberg, a borough known for its eccentric qualities. As I briskly walked along the canal that runs through the neighborhood, I felt a light burning inside of me. It gave me confidence.

The light made me feel significant. I was walking alone.

A long walk can cure most things. A walk can make these magnificent cities seem small and personal, where no corner of the map could stay uncovered with a couple cups of coffee and a pace in my step.

When you’re in need of a walk all one must do is pick a point and leave. Or rather don’t pick a point, just leave. It’s often better that way. Even if it’s especially cold, which is quite often in Berlin.

I don’t mind it. Every time you step outside the cold is overwhelming. It makes me feel alive.

On these walks, all there is to do is think. Think about the surroundings, think about the city; think about life. As each building passes, another thought pops into my mind and I must write it down. This is what I love about walking.

It’s inspiring, as if the buildings reveal a different part of their history at different parts of the day when the sun shines on something new.

I hear the sound of the train approaching. It soon becomes louder than the clacking of my shoes on the cobblestone sidewalk. There’s an old-world charm about the train. Maybe because I’m not used to seeing them, but I wonder where it’s going.

Where am I going? At home, I’m uncertain about my future. At home, I’m lost in the comfort of it all. I have opportunities in front of me, and they’re mine to take.

Here, as I wander the streets, my mind wanders as well. I’m lost in the excitement. It’s new, and every time I come back to Europe I get this feeling that consumes me. Do I want to stay? Do I want to just explore for a while, maybe find a new purpose and a deeper perspective of what I want? Or am I just running from the uncertainty? That’s the question, isn’t it?

We meet and make our way to a pub for another mate’s birthday. I don’t know him, but the more the merrier. What I noticed in Europe is how people genuinely enjoy each other’s company. It’s different when being out in the states where it can feel as if there’s something to prove.

Here I see both girls and guys, together with maybe just one other person, simply talking and having a drink. They seem absorbed in each other, often in jolly spirits, not once looking at their phones or what’s going on around them for a period of hours.

They must be truly there in that moment. There’s a freedom to simply be yourself. I admire that.

It’s amazing how people you meet traveling can have a profound impact on you. That’s the wonder of it all. The ones that you meet and the differences that you see in them, and eventually in yourself.

The ability to stick with others and create meaning. When you are really present, it can change someone’s life.

Every time I travel it makes me more and more curious. I’m never quite the same when I come home, and it takes a moment to snap back to reality. The city of Berlin and Europe as a whole has stayed with me.

I can’t stop thinking about it.

The blending of the old and the new, the wonderful subtleties, the connections. I want to get back out there and continue to see the world. I long to create my own perspective. Without knowing how the rest of the world lives, how can we ever question what we know so well? Being comfortable’s nice, but I want the courage to be uncomfortable for a while.

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My name is Vincent Van Patten. This is my home, a place to share who I am and what lights my soul on fire. I’m a writer, media creator, and co-host of The Dare to Dream Podcast. Most importantly, I’m an inspired citizen of our ever-changing world. I strive to learn all that I can about how we’ve progressed to where we are today as individual cultures and as a planet. It’s my passion to fill every day with exploration and creativity no matter where I am, whether in California crafting my latest project or on my way to discover someplace new. By writing about my experiences, connecting with people and the earth, and remaining present, I always feel at home. I write to express my perspective of daily living, from the thoughts in my head to the relationships we share as human beings. I write about travel, culture, books, life, philosophy, spirituality, health, self-improvement, and history. I also write poetry and short stories  —  doing so soothes the soul. I believe we’re here to challenge ourselves by questioning all we think we know. When we do, we open our minds to a way of living we could never have imagined. This life is a journey with no finish line in sight. I hope to leave a positive impact with every step I take.

Del Mar, CA

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