I attended a rather unusual concert today. One of the pieces involved a piano, violin, cello, and a narrator who spoke about the adventures of Sinbad the Sailor. “Venture forth!” was a phrase he used and it struck me as perfect, since I’ve been thinking lately not only of stepping outside my own “comfort zone,” but also about how parents (myself included) should encourage their children to try new things.
Actually, the concert itself was a stretch for me because I usually choose dependable geniuses like Mozart or Bach. But today the composers were contemporary artists (and you never know whether such folks will be brilliant or intolerably tedious). But while dissonant, modern tones usually make me flinch, I thoroughly enjoyed the music today.
I also stepped outside my “zone” this week by attending an all-day meditation workshop. A few years ago the mere thought of remaining still for the length of an MRI was enough to send me racing to my doctor for anxiety meds, but this weekend I somehow managed to engage in a six-hour (with breaks) meditation. I also recently attended a highly unusual event where hundreds of people gathered to be physically and/or spiritually “healed.” This--like the atonal concert and the meditation sit-a-thon—was another instance in which I stretched beyond my usual, self-imposed limit. In the past, a huge crowd of people dressed in white (unless at, say, Beyonce’s wedding) would make me quake with fear. But I now know that I can be in a place, observe, and react in a way of my own choosing. Besides, I always have the option to leave.
Now, I’m not telling you this because I want to brag. Nor will you find me parachuting out of airplanes or bungi-jumping off cliffs any time soon. Stepping outside one’s comfort zone, after all, is relative. For me it might be a magnificent feat to eat a raw clam. For you-- a raw clam aficionado--stepping outside of your comfort zone might mean nabbing a spot on the next space shuttle.
It’s easy to get in a rut or hang onto our habits—picking the same local diner for lunch, or wearing the same black sandals. But just as we want our children to experience new things—to try the asparagus, go out for fencing, or give writing poetry a shot---we need to keep the door to adventure open in our own lives.
So venture forth! I’ll be right behind you.