Comfort zone…

Image: Pixabay

I felt a tad fragile and the thought of sitting in front of a bright computer screen had no appeal at all. I could have done the ironing, I suppose, but there was no hurry. I could have cuddled the dog and done nothing… which I did for a while; doing nothing can be the most productive way of spending your time. But eventually, I started to fidget. I turned to an old, familiar friendship and picked up a book.

It was not one of the many interesting books still waiting to be read, their pristine pages silently urging me to explore their secrets. No, it was a book that is falling apart from having been read by several generations of my family over the past forty years. A book I have read so many times before that it held no surprises at all, apart from the fact that, for the very first time, I was obliged to don my reading glasses.

It was just a light read, pure fiction, where the only depth is in the author’s knowledge and passion for her subject. But it was familiar… comfort food for the mind… and perfect to read when feeling the after effects of a three-day migraine. The dog curled up and snored quietly on my feet, the garden doors stood open as the rain fell and the temperature dropped, and I snuggled down with a cuppa, some hot, buttered toast and a big fluffy dressing gown to indulge in a medicinal dose of familiarity.

We need that comfortable familiarity sometimes. It can be healing, reassuring and all that is required to set us to rights. Whether it is the hearty, wholesome food of childhood that brings back warm memories, the encouragement of a familiar smile or a story we know so well that we can conjure its landscape with as much ease as if we were stepping into a wardrobe. It gives us a place of physical and emotional security that wraps around us like a blanket round a babe and keeps us safe. There are no challenges, no surprises, just things we know and love.

When we are warm and cosy, we do not want to move. Waking without an alarm in what is always the most comfortable bed in the world at that moment, there is a time in which we simply do not move. It may last no more than seconds, or we may turn over and go back to sleep, but while it lasts, all is well with the world. We have no desire at all to leave the warmth behind, step into a frozen morning and face the requirements of the day.

Minds work the same way as bodies. They like familiarity. The patterns of habit obviate the need to expend energy. There is no challenge… we can function on auto-pilot as long as we stick to what we know well. Ask our minds to do or try something new and unfamiliar and they will either jump at the adventure or go into siege mode, digging themselves ever deeper into the duvet of entrenched perspectives from which only the most determined assault will dislodge them. Like a body that refuses to leave the sofa, book and cake, such unmoving, persistent entrenchment will only end in a loss of flexibility and a heaviness of spirit.

There is nothing at all wrong with being comfortable in mind, heart or body… on the contrary; contentment and comfort go hand in hand. But that only works well when we are open to other experiences than those within our bubble of familiarity. When choosing to ‘snuggle down’ for a while is a choice and not our default position. If I read only the books I know by heart, I would never learn anything new. If I walked only familiar paths, I would never see a different horizon. If my mind were closed to opinions and beliefs other than those I hold, my own would never evolve and grow… and neither would I.

Step outside the comfort-zone and the world is an unfamiliar place, where challenges, fears and adventures await… often in the very same place. Accept the challenge, face the fear and embrace the adventure. We will always have a comfort-zone, but the adventure may not wait.

38 thoughts on “Comfort zone…

  1. I so love this, Sue. It is so true of late with my mind. Suddenly I am using my mind in new areas and new challenges to my thinking, and as I continue to allow this, all sorts of things are changing for me. I was struggling when we started the journey with the Trickster. Then suddenly things changed, and I started doing new things – starting a new blog and reminding myself that I can still be creative and think outside the box. And I had a lot of challenges to deal with too that taxed my mind to the limit – if you can believe this, my pharmacy account hijacked by another pharmacy in another town (NOT on my watch!!!) and my general physician literally disappearing with his whole staff for weeks on end with no word to patients what is going on and even the hospital cannot reach him. So these were not everyday things we deal with. And today the Lyft driver came to pick me up for a health class I needed, then turned up another street in front of me and took off after stopping and looking right at me. So strange, but it was good as it challenged my mind to really flex itself. The result was that I have rethought a lot of the things where my mind has been distracted. Anyway, all is under control and these recent posts have been extremely helpful in helping to pull me out of the deep sand into which I had become mired. I am looking at my lessons with fresh eyes and without all the struggle. So all is good here in sleepy time, and that is a wonderful feeling. Thank you all so kindly for these amazing posts.

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      1. But it has to get a whole lot more challenging to get the best of me! And I honestly don’t think that is going to happen. Those things were just bizarre, but everything is for a purpose I guess.

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          1. Thank you both kindly.Yes, I find that to be true too. When all this started, stressful as it was, it somehow caused my mind to switch (plus the talk about Gilgamesh helped me too) and suddenly I saw the whole journey related to the Enneagram differently. I realized I was putting too much emphasis in my mind on WHAT the people were doing as much as looking at their overall personalities, and being able to see parts of myself in some of them. Anyway, it helped me a lot to get a new direction of what I was looking at. Thank you again.

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  2. I used to enjoy curling up with a good book and had my favourites of the hundreds we had on the shelf in the cottage.
    We kept a few on the boat when we had the Great Sort Out,but in three years, I never read a single one. Now I can’t relax and lose myself in a book, or rather haven’t found a book that holds my interest to do just that. I can’t settle these days, even my music evades my interest. I need to re-find my comfort zone, or make a new one.

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    1. You go through periods like that. I could read a book in a day without blinking once… now a book may take me weeks between lack of time and the inability to stay awake when I stop for a bit. But the ‘dry’ spells between reading always end in the same way… with a book 🙂

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  3. Hi Sue, What a lovely piece and how I recognise it! I loved ”medicinal dose of familiarity.” I’m decades older than you,so – sometimes – my extra years encourage me to be more indulgent. That said, there’s still a child somewhere in there who prods me into action and I can only lounge for so long. Fortunately mostly with a book…..Writing acts as a magnet, and the years are disappearing too fast (a great prod-rod), so – while I’m still on my perch – I must seek out fresh faces and places and put my five senses to work. I’m so glad to have ‘found’ you! Cheers.

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    1. Thanks, Joy… and I doubt you are that many decades older than me 🙂 I don’t often just sit and read for hours these days, as I once did… but the ‘old friends’ will always have a place, as do new ones 🙂

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