Adventure Awaits in the Comfort Zone

As seen in our October 5, 2023 Newsletter – Subscribe Here

When the time comes to get on the water, the first decision to be made is where. I am incredibly lucky to live where I do because I have options. This can be a blessing and a curse. Too many options can drive a man crazy. There is an element that hangs over a fisherman like a dark cloud while he is having a slow day: might it be better at “the other” spot I didn’t choose?

No matter, the waters near my home have become incredibly comfortable. I don’t like to use the term “home waters” as that carries with it an arrogance that I somehow have ownership of it or that I deserve to be on it more than anyone else. Arrogance is one of my least favorite qualities in a person, so I tend not to use that term.

However, I do love the fact that there are waters I know so well, they bring another layer of relaxation when I fish them. Like that old friend you haven’t seen in a while; it doesn’t matter how much time has passed, the “catching up” part is authentic and the awkward moments of conversation don’t exist.

With water I am comfortable on, there are no questions. I know where to go, and I know how to fish it.

When fishing water you know well, the comfort comes in the familiarity of the stream in its totality. You know the banks, the runs, the eddies, the contours, the backdrops, what’s in front of you, and what’s behind.

You know where you have to walk to get to the good spots, where you have to enter each hole so as not to spook the fish. You know when you have to roll cast and when you can let it rip.

You know the soft runs, where the fish are holding and how to drift your fly to have the best chance for a strike. You know the tough spots to cast to and have figured out how to flip your fly in the most unorthodox way in order to induce that hungry fish to take a chance.

You know the exact location of obstacles that will hang you up or snag your line, which leads to the knowledge of just how long your drift needs to be before you pull it out and drop it again for another pass.

It’s a lot of knowledge you don’t even realize you have. It comes from time spent on this water and countless hours of focus, Zen, and trial and error. And once you have this knowledge, it creates “The Comfort.” The comfort of being able to enjoy all the other things around you while you just fish.

I find this comfort in other places as well, and as I age, I find myself seeking it out more and more. Perhaps it is the ease with which I can exist with someone I feel comfortable around…it takes less work. It isn’t nearly as challenging. I have programmed myself that simplicity is important for staying grounded through my recovery…“keep it simple, stupid.”

But what about challenging yourself?

Don’t we have to step outside our comfort zones in order to get better? Don’t we have to be uncomfortable to grow in our relationships and learning? Isn’t it good to fail? Isn’t that where true growth and learning happens?

Comfort allows us the ability to take risks. Comfort gives us the safety to try things that maybe we wouldn’t normally try. In friendship, longevity brings comfort, which in turn allows us to be more vulnerable in the relationship. Vulnerability brings risk, which we wouldn’t attempt with someone we just met, or our newly created friends. In the work place, over time, comfort allows us to take a risk because of the rapport and trust we’ve built; we have space to burn it.

Comfort teaches us about vulnerability. Vulnerability teaches us about risk. Comfort in taking risks teaches us about confidence. And all of these attributes create a space where we can have a more authentic experience.

During a game, Michael Jordan once made a free-throw with his eyes closed. Is it possible to catch a fish with your eyes closed? Maybe.

But then you’d miss out on watching that hog celebrate your presence with his best impersonation of a Metallica concert going head banger! I’m much more comfortable with that.

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