All my life I've taken the easier road.

I remember quite clearly when my friend Karen's father approached my teller window when I was working for The Crocker Bank on Chester Avenue in my home town. It was so long ago that I can remember feeling optimism. He told me about The Comfort Zone, and how dangerous it was.

He told me, after I had taken his check and returned him his cash, that I was doing the wrong thing. That I was wasting myself and my capabilities and dreams. He told me, like a sage leaning on a staff beneath the sagging boughs of his oak along the side of my life's road, to beware of falling victim to the call of money. Money as savior. Money as happiness. Money as the goal.

I don't remember what I said back. I don't remember clearly anything else that happened either before he appeared at my window nor after he left it on that day. But The Comfort Zone sounded not at all like something to be feared. It sounded like somewhere I wanted to be.

I have been living there forever. I have been ignorant of the passage of time and fallen as willing and eager victim to the call of lines of credit at 19% interest pressed in plastic, consumer consumption of the latest when the current would do, traveling away from problems a week at a time without worrying that they would still be there upon my return.

I have stood at the dark wood tables and spoken in a confident voice about things I couldn't care less about. I have kissed the asses and licked the feet. I have sold myself utterly and entombed my dreams and ambitions. I have moved from place to place in pursuit of nothing, and escape from everything.

And I am done.

I am tossing the dice high, kids. I am casting fate to the wind. I am stepping off the rubberized grip of The Comfort Zone and cannonballing into the abyss of possibilities.

No, I do not have a nest egg. No, I do not have wealthy parents and friends to fall back on. Yes, it is all completely absurd and insane and fantastically stupid.

And scary.

The door has opened on the side of the machine. I can see the light beyond. Is it heaven, or the abyss?

I am going to find out.

What have you escaped from?