The Zone | Why we fear the concept of comfort

For a long time I was blissfully unaware of any such thing as a specific ‘zone’. Like generations before me, I survived. Obviously not in an optimal way; why else would this ubiquitous term enjoy such prominence in our culture now?

‘Zone’ is used in a variety of situations, most pertaining to our well-being. And I never knew. We are advised to “be in the zone”. Alternatively, we should occasionally ‘zone out’. If we can boast about some superhuman effort or achievement, such as setting a new record on the treadmill, then we can claim to be ‘really in the zone!’

So far, so good.

But, let’s not get complacent. Not all ‘zones’ are good and apparently the most detrimental to our health and well-being is ‘the comfort zone.’ We are constantly being bombarded with the mantra, ‘Get out of your comfort zone!’ Obviously that is a bad place to be. It smacks of laziness, lack of ambition, limited horizons – or indeed none at all – a zombie-state akin to total paralysis.

See, we must never admit to wallowing in our comfort zone. People who know what’s best will tell us that we need to break free, try new things, embrace new challenges, catapult ourselves into the great unknown. So, if you enjoy a leisurely walk – beware! Apparently there is a right way and a wrong way. A correct walk should render you breathless, unable to speak and at the finish line should find you with perspiration puddling at your feet. See, there must be suffering. You must not be comfortable at the end.

The Zone, Tarkovsky Stalker |
But will the Zone really give you what you want, Frail Mortal?

Perhaps it’s better if you take up jogging and then, before you discover the treacherous comfort zone, set your sights on running a marathon. Enjoy reading? Take up bridge instead. It’s far more challenging, great for the grey matter. Perhaps you whisper, ‘I don’t need a constant stream of other people around me and enjoy my own company’.

‘For God’s sake, take up golf!’

And if the jogging, climbing, sprinting isn’t really for you then how about; Yoga, Pilates, Zumba, Cycling, anything! But you must get out of your ‘comfort zone’!

Go away!

I have a question. When we have mastered all these activities or just one of them, attained a level where they are no longer excruciating or a threat to life and limb, aren’t we then back in a ‘comfort zone’? Does the cycle start all over again then? Good Lord, what next?

I’ll tell you. Leave us alone!

Our ‘comfort zone’ is a very nice place. We shouldn’t need to apologise. It’s our own place, created by us, tailored to our needs and adaptable when the fancy takes us, or not.

Don’t deal the guilt card to us.

If you want to climb Everest, impose yourself on some far-flung indigenous tribe, ‘expand your horizons’ by travelling – translation; going on holiday for two weeks, soaking up the culture of a foreign land and apparently really getting to know and understand other peoples (is that even possible, by the way) then, off you go. But, I’m with Emily Dickinson on this: why the “rush to see the sun the other way around”?

Well, knock yourself out.

But, let the rest of us dream our dreams and embrace the golden silence in our very own comfort zone.

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