Monday, March 31, 2014

Comfort Zone

"A Magical Wilderness"

Yesterday while browsing through Facebook, I came across a picture shared by a friend of mine. It was nothing but a black background with two white circles drawn on it. One circle was quite small and an arrow pointed to it with the words, "comfort zone." Next to it was a much larger circle -  an arrow pointing to it read: "Where all the magic happens." 

That one little icon really spoke volumes to me. In my experience, I have indeed found that all the magic, the mystery and the wonder in my life has always happened whenever I have been bold enough to move out of my own little comfort zone in life. 

As I looked at that drawing yesterday, I immediately called to mind a time several years ago when we moved from the East coast to the West. My wife and I were well-established in our jobs and careers back East. We owned a nice home. All our friends, acquaintances, and colleagues were there. We were very secure and very comfortable.  We planned to stay right where we were until we retired.  But that's not how it all worked out.

After a long period of discernment, I accepted a call to a church in Los Angeles, California. We sold our home, said goodbye to everyone and everything that was familiar, packed the dogs into the car - "California here we come." 

If there was ever an instance in my life when I felt like I was really leaving my comfort zone, it was that September day when we got in the car and embarked on a 3000-mile cross-country journey. 

As my wife and I drove out of our comfort zone, all the magic began to happen. 

On our "road trip," we met so many wonderful people-strangers who instantly became friends. We saw so many beautiful places-the rolling fields of the midwest plains, the Grand Canyon, the red rocks of Sedona. We spent our hours in the car laughing, talking, praying-filled with a sense of hope at what new ventures may yet be coming our way in life. It was really a "magical" time.

And now we have moved yet one more time out of the comfort zone. After ten years in Los Angeles, now in the later years of life, we have moved out to the desert.  

The Buddhist Nun, Pema Chodron once said: 

To be fully alive, fully human and completely aware
is to be continually thrown out of the nest.

Out here in the wilderness, I begin each day "thrown out of the nest." It's not that I no longer believe what I once believed, it's just that I don't feel a need to cling to anything much any more. 

I don't cling to my old assurances and my comfortable  answers about "God" or "church" or "faith." I  no longer cling to my old self-aggrandizing assurances about who I am. I no longer need to plan out my life or career. At this stage of my life, I no longer need to strategize for the future; and I certainly don't wallow in remembrances of the good old days.

I get up in the morning and I am thrown out of my nest. Every day I move away from the comfort zone. I sit in my garden at sunrise with an uncluttered mind and I cry out to the Holy Abiding Presence: "I don't know anything, I control nothing."

So, let the magic happen!


  1. Your imagery and insights are a continual inspiration to me. Thank you for sharing them!

    1. are most welcome Thanks for the comment.

  2. There's nothing more beautiful - although not always easy - to go the way life goes - and not against it. Always a pleasure to read your posts.

  3. I love your writing and thoughts Paul. Thanks for sharing.