Having to say goodbye to our cats and not being able to explain that we’ll be back, standing in a very slow customs line, hoping not to miss a connecting flight due to leave within the hour, watching my kids’ eyes gape at the police carrying automatic weapons, trying to buy groceries with unfamiliar products and then finding out they don’t take American Express after being rung up by the cashier.
My son fell and scraped his face this afternoon at the park. He cried and cried as we walked back. “I want to go home,” he told me through tears. “Not just back to the house, I want to go home home.”
In all of these experiences, the theme of newness and unfamiliarity presents itself. I am more comfortable with what I know. And I am not the only one who feels this way. I guess it makes sense, if we think about how our brains work. Our brains are programmed to assess stimuli as safe or unsafe before it moves on to any other functioning. When we are in a familiar situation, our brains can quickly assess familiar stimuli and move on. With newness, it takes more brain power for the initial danger assessment.
That logical explanation helps me feel a little better.
But what do I have to feel better about?
As I write, I recognize that part of me feels held back by the part that yearns for the familiar. Perhaps by naming this dynamic tension, giving it a place at the table, I can become more comfortable with it.
I can also look at my discomfort with newness from a perspective of “stretching”. I am stretching out of my comfort zone a little. I’m definitely stiff because it’s been awhile since I have stretched in this way, but it also feels good to become more nimble with newness.
I sense spaciousness arriving, and with it comes permission to not know what to expect, permission to be flexible with plans and with timing.
I am tired, but it is a satisfied tiredness.
My son’s face is scraped up, but it doesn’t hurt anymore. We walked to the boulangerie before dinner and picked out some desserts. He has decided that perhaps we should stay awhile longer.
What is a comfort zone you notice yourself standing in more than you would like? How might you stretch a little today?
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