Sunday, January 10, 2010

Comfort zones ... and beyond

A full day. A stadium tour (OK, one loop repeated 40 times due to snow interference, but it was the same length as a tour), a few hours XC skiing at Great Brook in Carlisle (from which I am now the proud recipient of a season's pass [cheap!] and my own equipment, on sale from last year's rentals, so now I can ski freely!), a few hours laying down first sketches of a book, pretty stunningly cool, and now my own words-on-the-page time, accompanied by Pandora's "early blues" selections and brown-sugared mint tea.

All of which somehow leads me to ... comfort zones. Fascinating little places. Much more fascinating when we step or get pushed beyond them, notwithstanding the ensuing levels of discomfort, whether slight or excruciating.

Skiing in NH last weekend, I was pushed outta my comfort zone by some steep, icy hills and night skiing. My reactions? Fear, not fun, don't like, fear, loss of control, fear. Today, inadvertently, we wound up on a trail beyond my friends' comfort levels, and I found myself on the other side of discomfort, able to observe it more dispassionately, while reflecting from recent memory how it feels on the other side. My prior discomfort made almost everything today feel safe and doable, or allowed me to easily find solutions to flow around any obstacles or paths I chose not to take.

Psychological comfort zones can be even trickier. Conversations delving into friends' upbringings, childhood memories, some hard pivotal life points remind me that we each have our own thresholds into our interior rooms of comfort and discomfort. Rooms filled with moments that might seem small when they begin, like just ... a moment ... but turn into much, much more. Small turning points of profundity. That fling us from our comfort zones. Maybe we know it in the moment, or maybe we only know discomfort (a cush-sounding word for what can be an extreme emotion -- kind of like "disappointment" -- sounds mild, but when you're in its throes, it has sharp, metal teeth). But these moments' irrevocable etchings mark us, leave us altered.

One of the cool things from early blues recordings? The hiss of record static.

The gatos' take on comfort zones? Sucio is frequently jolted out of his, perhaps by a leaf blowing by. And yet. And yet. My marshmallow cat reached an unthought-of pinnacle with his new but ongoing bedsharing -- who would've thought he could've summited that peak? And he proudly, contentedly frequents the bed now at all hours.

Willa's comfort zone is in the center of attention, on top of anything you might be looking at, talking about and/or touching. Right now, she tries to lie on my lap, blocking the screen. She settles for the junction of my leg and the couch, while trying to encroach her way onto the laptop, my arm, anything, but more, more please, more attention, more hands, more petting. But she finally, ultimately relented and let a new interloper into her space -- grudgingly, grudgingly even sharing her human. Comfort zones? The gatos blew them away.


  1. I picked up this gem from a conference I attended once: comfort zones are most often expanded through discomfort.

  2. Awesome, I dig it. Has the solid ring of truth, thanks for sharing!