Here we are in the second month of a new year. Does it still feel new to you?
How are those resolutions coming along?
From my own observation, the year is sticking to it’s own resolution to pile on as much trouble as it can, and it’s not even cracking a sweat. Few people I know are untouched by this. It’s not a happy thought. And although it may seem trite or silly there’s a lot of truth in this conversation between Frodo Baggins and Gandalf,
“I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.”
“So do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. There are other forces at work in this world Frodo, besides the will of evil.”
When bad things happen, trouble finds us, what have you, most of us hunker down and take shelter either emotionally, mentally, and / or physically. We withdraw from that source of trouble and circle the wagons. Otherwise known as a comfort zone.
I can’t count the number of times life has whacked me pretty hard and I’ve told myself, ‘I’m never doing (fill in the blank) again!’. This is true for relationships, jobs, travel, food, books, clothes, movies, people; you name it, I’ve said it. Some of those things come down to good sense. But others were things that fell into the category of ‘Things Just Happen’. It couldn’t have been foreseen. There wasn’t anyway to know it would happen. But it did and after that experience I wouldn’t trust (fill in the blank) and anything related to it.
Are you seeing the same problem with this that I am? Each time something bad happened I’d redraw my comfort zone making it a little smaller, retracting from the ‘bad’ thing and if anything bore a similarity to it, that got tossed into the ‘avoid’ bin too, i.e., ‘I had a lousy time at Joe’s party. That’s the last party I’ll ever go to; Joes or anyone elses.’
I’m not the kind of person you’d describe as a free spirit. I don’t leap fearlessly and let the consequences roll off my back anymore than I can stand on a tall building and not break out into cold sweat.
My problem… my reoccurring problem is that over time my comfort zone shrinks more and more until it’s constricting. Eventually I wake up to what I’m doing to myself and get brave and step outside that zone becoming bolder, stronger, more confident; pushing that zone outward further and further…. aaaand then life whacks me a good one and there goes the comfort zone again.
I can accept that it’s human to do this, more or less. I’m in the middle of a long whacking and it’s the kind that there’s no safety for me. I instinctively balled up, head in hands, waiting for the next blow to fall. I’ve retreated and hidden and sought protection. Useless. I have no comfort zone. There’s no zone. There’s no comfort. So now what?
In an example of art imitating life, there’s a scene in Dances With Wolves where Costner’s character, Dunbar, has taken up a post out in the middle of nowhere in a small shack. Watching him you feel his sense of being exposed and vulnerability to everything around him. He’s pulled in his comfort zone as far as it’ll go and still he can’t protect himself. He has that moment of, ‘Now what do I do?’
This is what he says, “I realize now that I have been wrong. All this time, I’ve been waiting. Waiting for what?
For someone to find me?
For Indians to take my horse? To see a buffalo?
Since I have arrived at this post, I have been walking on eggs.
I am sick of it.
Tomorrow, I will ride out to the Indians. I do not know the wisdom of this thinking, but I’ve become a target, and a target makes a poor impression.
I am through waiting.”
And that’s the truth of it. I hunker down in my comfort zone and don’t move. I let life bring things to me thinking that’s safer. It’s not. Not only that, it’s not life. It’s just existing.
So, since I’m taking a beating and it happens in or out of my comfort zone, what’s the point of hiding?
Pardon the dramatic of me saying this but you can’t really live your life if you’re timid. Brave words, I know. And I say those words, but I don’t feel them very much. Still, what choice to I have? I’m boned either way, right?