Saturday, January 21, 2012

Dispatch From The Comfort Zone

The "Comfort Zone," of course, is that place out of which we are perpetually encouraged to get ourselves, usually for someone else's idea of our own good, that "good" often being some species of alleged personal growth and transformation. Those who inhabit the introverted, shy and reclusive side of the human spectrum will know what I mean.

Since childhood, we're admonished: come out of your shell, speak up, mingle, interact, converse, commune, join in, join up. If we take the advice, either by choice or force, we end up in environments in which we are aliens, our strangeness discussed in whispered and not-so-whispered conversations. As if we did not know that already.

"Get out of your comfort zone," shouts the life coach, muscles rippling under Spandex, sweating plutonium-hued Gator-Ade.

For those of us for whom the world is one big Discomfort Zone, do not begrudge us our asylums. We spend our exhausting lives in your Zone Of Conviviality, trying to pass for One Of You, for some of us, a lifetime of mauvais foi. We need our warm, shadowy burrows of solitude. Without them, we lead lives of utter refraction.

Googling "get out of your comfort zone" results in a horrifying but not surprising 14,300,000 hits -- we've heard this chorus all our waking life and in our dreams, the chorus of those who know, far better than we do, what's good for us.

I came home from work the other day and plopped myself down in my study. I exhaled and slumped. I had a distinct feeling that I'd barely survived another sprint through the savage gauntlet of the world, and, finally I was safe. In my --

comfort zone.

Even among the tribe there are factions, for example introverts wanting to make it very, very, very clear that they are not "shy," and certainly not a -- gasp -- loner. Well, guess what. The coach -- no, the drill sergeant -- screaming Get out of your comfort zones ! screams for thee, all of thee, nuances notwithstanding.

So, from henceforth, let it be known that my study (my hut, my anchorhold, my lair, my den) shall be known as The Comfort Zone.

And in the absence of interpersonal angst, metaphysical angst shall flourish !

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