Wednesday, 26 January 2011

The comfort zone

Have been chatting to an old friend whose two daughters are late teenagers, at Uni and in the sixth form respectively. Both girls are grappling with painful life lessons. Yet the eldest, it seems to me, has acquired an admirable sense of proportion that I, in my nominally grown-up state, have yet to master. When faced with a dilemma, a crisis even, she is asking herself: what's the worst that can happen? To prepare for this, she has Plan B, and sometimes a Plan C up her sleeve. Both options involve this young, courageous woman moving out of her comfort zone, throwing herself into the unknown.

I admire and applaud - nay, envy - her strength of spirit. Too many of us are tied down by invisible wires which delude us into thinking that we can't change, that indeed we mustn't change, lest things unravel. And then where would we be? Well, where indeed? Possibly somewhere more challenging, more nerve-wracking? Or more rewarding?

I went bunji-jumping once. A phenomenal experience. I'd planned to do it in advance, and surprised myself by not backing out on the platform 100 metres above Zimbabwe's Victoria Falls. Six months later I'd resigned from my job as an investment banker - something I maybe could have done 2-3 years earlier - and begun a new life: writing novels and retraining to be a psychotherapist. And looking back, I'm convinced that somewhere in my psyche, a shift occurred when I took that literal leap into the metaphorical unknown. A shift which eventually changed my life.

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