If ever there was a deterrent to the pursuit of physical fitness, “no pain, no gain” has to rank pretty high on the list. It’s a phrase that’s been appropriated and given a twist by motivational speakers, life coaches, and advocates of extreme dieting regimes. It’s the mantra that drives those who should know better into bungee jumping. Who knows, it may even, in some circumstances, have brought about an early demise, in the quest for the perfect holiday selfie.
Personally, I’ve always thought that people who claim to be happiest outside their comfort zone should be avoided at all costs. Apparently I’m not alone in my thoughts. See Melody Wilding’s, “Please stop telling me to leave my comfort zone.” I mean, call me unadventurous, but why would anyone want to constantly drive themselves into anxiety or humiliation in order to find a side to themselves that they may ultimately wish had remained hidden? Unless you have masochistic leanings, how is this the route to an agreeable existence?
I have a lifelong aversion to public speaking, but no matter how persuasive the arguments for making me a more rounded person, I have resisted in determined fashion. I even had my career prospects curtailed due to what was perceived as a “bad attitude”. Or, as I would put it, more fittingly, non-compliance in the interest of self-preservation. In short, I already knew where I was most at ease; and it didn’t entail leading huge gatherings of students, repeatedly, through the ins and outs of database interrogation.
Of course, people may say that my fascination with art – I’m no expert, by the way, so don’t ask me – must inevitably present the odd challenge or two. Yes, of course, but therein lies the thrill of provocation, the testing, the questioning, the interpretation, the working out. All these things I can achieve in relative ease, allowing myself time to process and evaluate. I can get into a special place, right enough. It’s a flexible expanse; the horizons of which stretch out further with each passing year. To call it a zone, comfort or otherwise, would be far too limiting.
This week I happened upon the work of Felice Hodges (not a relative, to my knowledge) on Instagram. I was immediately smitten. How about you?