For most people, escaping their comfort zone means adrenaline sports or bungee jumping, but often it can be small-scale, uneventful to most onlookers, a seemingly minor shift in habit.
Take books. I love, love, love attending Appledore Book Festival, yet one day this week, I left my comfort zone to attend something that really wasn’t me, or so I thought. Egged on by pal, Denise, I attended a talk by artist and writer, Bonnie Kempske, on the Japanese tea bowl, its ritual and precision. Blow me, it is precise, too, from the number of times it is rotated to the level of ping sound you are able to make when knocking tea leaves from a bamboo spoon.
Complementing my zero knowledge of Japanese culture or the history of tea bowls, the talk was in the studio of Appledore ceramicist, Sandy Brown. I know nothing about ceramics, either, but Sandy was very welcoming, her beautifully brilliant light white studio with her massive signature pieces entrancing.
My normal approach to life is to engage with things I know, understand and feel vaguely competent about. We tend to do this with our writing, fearful of tackling the unanticipated or discomforting.
So, sitting listening to this minute detail about tea bowls was new to me, feeling surrounded by artists who must surely know something I didn’t. However, you can’t keep a good girl down for long, so I was the one asking the silly questions. Sandy brought the tea ceremony to life for me when she used the analogy of its importance and ritual being like a Catholic mass. I am not a Catholic but have been learning about it in my own research, so this descriptive image made a huge amount of sense to me.
Upshot, because there has to be one! I enjoyed learning about something new I’d never have chosen to uncover for myself. I have to admit that the beauty others raved about was difficult for my untrained eye to see, but I left feeling richer for tackling a new topic, closing the gaps on my ignorance. It most certainly was not my comfort zone but it was so much the better for that.
Thanks to Bonnie and Sandy for an enriching, informative session.