Unpopular Opinion

Your comfort zone is the enemy. Its a place you gravitate to because its familiar, easy, everyone likes you there, stress is minimal, there are fewer conflicts, the temperature is perfect, a fully stocked refrigerator is in close proximity, your favorite people are always ready to help you with whatever you need there, the music playing is your life playlist of favorite songs, there is a large buffer zone around your ample personal space. In the comfort zone you are always the guest of honor, featured personality, center of attention and life of the party.

Even though the comfort zone has everything you need to make your life easier, there is one thing that isn’t immediately apparent upon entering this particular zone. Its stagnant. It doesn’t change. It doesn’t challenge you. It doesn’t take you anywhere.

The opposite of the comfort zone is the unknown zone. Artists by nature must exist there most of the time. The artists role in society is to survey the environment and situations revolving around the human condition. When the artist makes their art they are in essence reporting back to the rest of humanity what they discovered while traveling through and observing things related to themselves and other human affairs.

Marshall McLuhan, when describing the artists role, said that “the artist is the antennae of the human race.” The artist plays a damn important role in this society. Even though its not always appreciated by each and every human benefactor, its generally understood that life without artists and art would be cold, empty, directionless, uniformed.

Originally I had decided I was going to write about the artists personal benefits of operating in the unknown zone. That post would have looked something like this:

You need to work with people who challenge you, play shows in cities where you have a small (or no) support base, you need to step away from your habits and write a song utilizing techniques you haven’t used before, you need to network at places and with people you aren’t familiar with, you need to initiate conversations with people you don’t know after your set, etc etc.

I was going to go on and on in this fashion and really try and spell out the personal benefits of breaking free from the comfort zone. But once I got started this idea popped into my head regarding the more important societal benefits instead. Frank Zappa once said that “human progress cannot happen unless people are willing to deviate from the norm.” The comfort zone is ground zero for the norm. All deviation from the norm starts at the comfort zone.

The unknown zone is big. A lot of it sucks. Move quickly through it. Scan, probe, search and take notes. The more time you spend there the more comfortable you’ll get navigating around it. Opportunity and inspiration live in the unknown zone so go get some of that and report back with your songs and stories!

Would love to hear what some of you do to mix things up and break free from the shackles of comfort.

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