“I have become comfortably numb” ~ Pink Floyd
Or, as defined by my dictionary
Comfortable (adj): giving comfort, relaxing; free from trouble or pain
Being comfortable is nice. A comfy chair to sit on, a comfy bed to lay on; all measures considered as part of a purchase. Although some people may like and get off on varying elements of discomfort or pain, only the most dedicated ascetic tends to ignore their own personal comforts.
And what is true for our physical selves is also true for our inner selves; we seek comfort in what we read, what we watch or listen to, how we pass out time. We get to know ourselves, our comforts, and they become patterns. Or, sometimes, safety nets.
It’s all too easy to find yourself in a comfort zone, by having picked things that you like, thing you enjoy, then look around and realise that you have no idea how to get out. That although these things are nice, are comfortable, they aren’t all you want. Yet they provide the security, the comfort, that you are used to. What to do?
Recently, I literally stepped out of my comfort zone. This is not a misuse of the word ‘literally’. I took about 20 steps off my normal path when walking somewhere and experienced something I had never experienced before. It was a very mundane ordinary thing but blood pounded in my head as I made the decision and I felt nervous with every step. However it was worth it. I gained a sense of peace from the experience and also a little piece of me grew in the knowledge that I could stretch my own comfort zones.
That isn’t to say it always works out so well or so easily. Being brave enough to take a risk, to step out of the familiar, or raise your head above the parapet, is scary and it can really hurt. Other people, often not even realising, can be hurtful and callous, and send you scuttling back under your shell, back behind your self built walls of comfort. Then every time you try and it doesn’t work it gets a little bit harder until you wonder why you bother. And if it is even worth it.
But nothing is achieved without pushing boundaries, pushing oneself; think of a job interview, think of your first kiss. Both may have gone awry but perhaps, hopefully, there have been others, still scary but maybe you got the job or that person you liked wanted to kiss you too. I think the memories of what we have done when we step outside our comfort zones can be what helps us to do it again.
And if we don’t? Then perhaps we are silently screaming into our pillows on our comfy beds; are we comfortable but numb because we daren’t allow ourselves the challenge; daren’t allow ourselves to feel.
Where would you rather be?