The third of Todd Henry’s Everyday Acts of Bravery: Step Away From Comfort.
I told Todd I’d have this series posted in February.
A normal excuse might sound like “life got in the way.” I’m not in control of my life, that line of thinking goes. It’s not my fault.
Except it is my fault. Life got in the way because I allowed it to. I chose to delay this series and made other things more important.
I’d apologize if it would matter. But it wouldn’t. What matters is getting the work done.
And part of getting the work done is stepping away from comfort.
This doesn’t mean living like an ascetic, refusing all comforts and sitting on a rock to make the words, or the images, or the colors come. If that works for you, go for it–but that’s not what stepping away from comfort is about.
We all have routines, patterns, habits we follow. We get up at a certain time. We run a certain route and distance in the morning. We follow a certain road to work, do certain things while we’re there, eat lunch at a certain time and place.
Then we come home, sit in our comfortable chair, and switch on the TV. We don’t get up again until it’s time for bed.
It’s familiar, comfortable. We need it, we tell ourselves. We need to switch our brains off for a while and just relax so we can be fresh for the next day.
That works–as long as we want all of our next days to be exactly like today. But if we want to change something–our family, our country, our situation, or (most importantly) ourselves–we can’t allow the comfortable routine to have control.
That’s what stepping away from comfort is about. We can’t be creative, our genius can’t find us, while we’re sitting in our comfortable chairs watching our favorite shows. We have to step deliberately away so we can do the work that makes us better.
That’s hard. We’re tired, after all. The last thing we want is to engage our brains and do more work. And it seems irresponsible: what if our genius has a great idea, and we sit down to work and the words pour out and we look up and it’s 2 AM and we have to get up at 5?
What if our genius has a great idea, and we don’t sit down to work?
We never know what will happen when we step away from comfort and open ourselves to genius. That’s scary. That’s why we call it an act of bravery.
I’ve started setting a timer after supper–one hour to work on this site, and another hour to work on my next book. No TV, no games, no social networks. That way, my genius knows when to come looking for me.
What do you do? How do you step away from comfort? How does your genius know how to find you?