My Stepmom gave me my very first bamboo plant.
I was rather apprehensive when I was first given this precious gift as I had already managed to kill off all my houseplants. I liked to chalk up the death of all my plants to my overly warm and even hot apartment, but the truth is that I’m known as a plant killer than lover with having overwatered and not watered at all.
“There’s no way you can kill it,” she said to me.
I named it “Lucky.” I placed “Lucky” on the windowsill and followed my Stepmom’s instructions not to overwater it. Every morning, Lucky seemed to greet me with his thriving rich green leaves and sturdy stalk that was unbreakable. He did not talk or walk, but seemed to speak and ‘move’ in volumes with growing under my non-green thumb. He was my green buddy!
My parents say that bamboo is the most hardy and versatile plant out there that is food for pandas and even people as bamboo can be cooked in a variety of yummy ways, material for buildings and even musical instruments, and has medicinal qualities. My friend has said to me, “In life and especially when we are no longer in our comfort zone, we have to be like bamboo: Be simple, bend, and do not break.”
Comfort zones came up yet again on my recent month-long health debacle when my body had somewhat become the shape of a question mark. It was a fight for me to stand upright, dress, and even walk to the one place that could provide my body with relief: The swimming pool. Nonetheless, I had forced my body to match my mental gusto to go to the pool just about every single day as the water would wash over me with comfort and joy.
On one particular day, I heard a woman’s robust and loud voice carry to where I was in the corner of the locker room to her saying to someone on the phone: “Comfort zones are cruel. They stop you from growing, learning, doing, and going. You get stuck.”
My ears perked up. I could not make out the rest of her conversation or her story as I was in too much pain at that time to really focus, but it has made me contemplate about myself that I was the poster child for the comfort zone. I had never purposefully chosen to remove myself from comfort zones of familiarity and stability. I was the ultimate creature of habit. And, I thought: “What is really wrong with staying in my comfort zone? If I am happy then isn’t that all that matters?”
Life does not work out for anyone to stay in their comfort zone permanently that can and will be cruel and debilitating in the long term. Comfort zones are disabling and creations for weak character. Comfort zones are a stop sign to improvement, learning, growing, and teaching you more than you can possibly be.
Life circumstances always forced me out of my cocooned comfort zones to test and strengthen adaptability and adjustment. I fought and even felt like a failure all too many times with my mind and body rebelliously and angrily reacting. It was always extreme for me of stubbornly staying in my comfort zone or reacting very badly when taken out of it by unnecessarily fighting and wasting my energy. I’ve learned along the way that you choose your battles and some are not worth fighting for when you will lose more than you will gain. I’ve also learned that it is the little and bit by bit that makes the best difference in the larger than life and long haul. I have always chosen to stay put and planted, but now I am trying to be like bamboo: planted in my roots and values yet always adjusting and adapting as life calls for it.
What cocoons have you created for yourself that were broken? How did you react? Have you ever purposefully removed yourself from comfort zones? At what point are we happy with what we have as opposed to there being more and supposedly ‘better’ or ‘worse’? Is happiness mainly from our comfort zones? Are you like bamboo when removed from your comfort zone?
As for Lucky, I am sad to report that he passed away, but he lived longer than any of my green plants and thrived in all kinds of environmental changes. My green buddy taught me and continues to teach me a lot.
Keep smilin’ until we meet again,