Living life within your comfort zone is well, comfortable. My grandfather had a saying, that I’m sure he didn’t originate, “We’re too soon old and too late smart”. I had to get old to see the wisdom in it. In the last year, I’ve been doing a few things outside my comfort zone. I’ve created a little saying, that to me, describes the experience. It’s a combination of a famous quote by Nietzsche and a line from a popular song: “That which doesn’t kill you, makes you feel alive”. Is that plagiarism? I don’t know, but it is true. The last thing I want to do is sound preachy, but if you could just let it roll around in your brain a little, you might be happy with the results. My real question is: “why did it take seventy years to learn this?”.
A little example is in order here. I am definitely not a poet. I had difficulty in high school when we studied poetry. I’m more of a math and physics type. To the best of my knowledge, I have only written one poem that wasn’t academically coerced. I had read a book by Sage Cohen titled Fierce on the Page which gave excellent advice to aspiring writers. I decided to subscribe to her blog. I don’t remember the exact context, but she described a challenge to write a poem including 5 specific words: bruise, horse, milk, reason, and bride. I wrote the words down in my journal but couldn’t come up with a poem. Many months later, a poem just fell out. I don’t know if it’s good, but here it is:
truth is the bride of reason
what strange bedfellows they make
they ride the horse that is out of season
leaving a bruise on that which is fake
the milk of kindness is spun
Then to finish this story, on a whim, I submitted the poem to Sage. Within ten minutes she emailed me telling me how much she liked the poem. I still don’t actually know if the poem has merit, and I’m sure it breaks many rules of writing, but her response was very gratifying and made it well worth stepping outside my comfort zone. You should try it.