I have been pondering comfort zones this week and that popular mantra about getting out of them. Given my ultimate comfort zone is a bath with a book and chocolate, in theory I don’t have to step too far to haul myself out of the zone.
After a twenty-five-year break, I have gone back to rowing. I should clarify here that I mean the jolly rowing on the river with oars rather than the arguing-with-the-husband sport that I actually have been practicing pretty consistently for the last twenty years. I should also clarify that when I saw I rowed twenty-five years ago, I was pretty hopeless then as well—there was a reason that I conveniently appear to have forgotten that I didn’t persist on the “Wet Bob” front.
I have been sucked into subbing in a ladies social four on an intermittent basis, which gives my body a bit of time to recover before the next shock to the system. We row up one of the many arms of Sydney Harbour, and today was the most perfect morning to be out on the water. Balmy sunshine seemed like a complete gift, given the almost continuous rain of the last month that has resulted in over seventy percent of New South Wales being on flood watch on Friday.
Having rowed thirteen kilometers today, I am now sporting a fairly impressive set of blisters and have developed a crab-like crouch of a walk. The box of plasters might as well be strategically placed next to my side of the bed at the moment, as I have also managed to lose a big toenail—it finally fell off last night after my inept attempts to strap it in place with a band aid resulted in my almost cutting off circulation to my toe and waking at two a.m. convinced I was on the road to gangrene. Given I couldn’t rip the plaster off, as at that point vanity dictated I try to keep remnants of toenail in place, I then had to try and operate on myself to remove the death grip plaster with a pair of blunt baby scissors whilst balancing on the side of the bath.
On the serious side of out-of-the-comfort-zone maneuvers, for reasons that are completely beyond me, I found myself having to pick up a boat trailer that has been sitting in a field for five years, drive it through a gate, and then tow it ten kilometers or so to a garage to organize re-registration and general maintenance. I want to say it’s a twenty-foot boat trailer here, but fear I may be exaggerating—but if I say it is big enough to stick a boat that seats eight on it, you get the general picture. I have never towed a trailer in my life, so the prospect of this little outing was enough to have me waking in terror in the middle of the night. I felt I couldn’t confess how terrified I was by the prospect other than by making a joke of it, but I really did feel sick at the thought.
I am now happy to fling my hands up and announce to the world that I am no longer a trailer virgin. I have taken a trailer through a gate, round a roundabout, across two lanes of traffic and defying all odds, actually managed to park the thing, though I did spend some time scouting a parking spot that didn’t require any reversing. What the whole thing did make me realize, though, was that being frightened of doing something new is quite normal. That there were things I could do, and indeed did, that made the whole thing marginally less terrifying, including visiting the garage on a visit and checking out the route—the garage guys are now my new best friends as they were total stars and kept their faces straight whilst they calmed my nerves, fixed the trailer, screwed on new number plates, and lent me nuts and bolts to attach the label holder. I also press ganged a friend to come with me as moral support, and more importantly as a spare body to hold the hazard triangle when I either broke down or more likely absentmindedly side swiped a top of the range BMW (based on experience, I never crash into bottom of the range wrecks).
The thing I had forgotten about these type of out-of-comfort-zone experiences is the amazing feeling of euphoria, cartwheels-down-the-road joy that you get when you have tackled something you were frightened of/unnerved by and you’ve conquered, and somehow I must pass on to my teenage daughters. It's not the easy things that give you the buzz, sometimes it’s the things you find hardest that give you the most satisfaction—on which note, I’m off to re-apply plasters and consider when I should tackle trailer reversing for beginners.