The Remains Of The Day

Ministhy Dileep | October 21,2013 05:48 pm IST

The horse was the only one to understand. As I patted his head with the enthusiasm of the eager novice, he snorted in absolute disgust.

Almost as if to remind me that, "Hey, you get to ride me only because I decide not to throw you off my back." The lesson was humbly accepted. That getting out of life's comfort zones can be very tricky. Might end up getting kicked where it hurts.

Yet, personal effectiveness experts advise us to stretch towards excellence. In zones unexplored as yet. Like Jonathan Livingston Seagull**. Why, they even charge you some thousands to repeat the same old mantras. Active listening and Self Introspection. A bit of yoga and goal setting. With music in the background. And we all collectively decide to become new leaves. Starting the next day.

The issue of comfort zones and habits are actually pretty interesting. Provided we learn to leave our skepticism behind. Listen to these energizers:

"When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be." - John Heider.

Of course, as an illustration, the expert runs a session on Parental Drivers*** that explain why you are in the habit of sweating out twenty hours a day without a break. Because an old aunt apparently said to the three-year-old-you, "Beta, Hard work ke bina, kaam nahin chalega." This particular Driver is called, "Work Hard."
(You gape at the Guru.)

You end up blinking when the light dawns suddenly. Old Aunt has been sitting pretty inside your head all this while - never letting you rest. Even if you are earning enough to buy the old family mansion twice over. Hideous than a Hitchhockian flick, indeed. So you decide to explore the comfort zone of telling yourself to relax. Pretty tough job, man.

Almost as if one shock is not enough, the personal effectiveness expert puts on the music. A song about an eagle which never really got a chance to fly****. Since it had been chained right from its fledgling days. (Your imagination runs amuck as to the symbolic stakes to which you have been tied. By the society in general and every one else in particular). The eagle, even when let free, prefers to stay in its rut. The expert grins angelically. And asks you to get out of your personal comfort zones that are nothing but deep ruts in the psyche.
(You look around desperately trying to get a break. Literally and figuratively. Nothing forthcoming).

By the time the MBTI and FIRO-B profiles***** are run, you are feeling like the scum of the earth. For wouldn't you know, you have an absolutely erratic personal profile with a screaming need for affection and a terrible need for control. Not to mention that your new room mate happens to be of a profile perfectly opposite to you. "So stretch towards excellence", concludes the expert at the end of the day. You know he means it very sincerely. So do you, when you decide to ride a horse. For the first time in your life. A starter for the getting-out-of-life's comfort zones- business.

The horse doesn't take too kindly to your intentions of using him to reemerge from your old and stupid self. He kicks. Hard. The remains of the day's aspirations of getting out of comfort zones lies sprawled unevenly on the grass.

As I said, the horse is the only one who truly understands.

* Based on the best seller by Kazuo Ishiguro, adapted into a film starring Anthony Hopkins as Stevens the butler.
** Richard Bach. The seagull whose passion was to learn to fly. While all others caught fish.
*** There are different versions of the Drivers questionnaires. Some give you choices like hedonism, career, creativity, self-actualization etc. The Parental drivers explore subconsciously imbibed messages from parents or like figures. Such messages have to be ideally reevaluated often. For they need not be good at every point in your life.
**** Ref: Study Material on Self-Growth. Don Bosco Youth Mission and Educational Services.
***** Myers Briggs Type Indicator giving you a personal profiles like INFJ, ESTP etc. Based on how you derive your energy, make choices, gather information, etc. FIRO-B gives you a personal profile of how much you want and express factors like affection/control and inclusion. 


Ministhy S. is PG (PM&IR) from XLRI-Jamshedpur, and currently, an IAS officer working in the UP cadre. She has written five books - 'Unequal Equations', 'Learning with Tippy Tortoise: Tales for Kids', 'Happy Birthday: Poems for Kids' and a novel published by Dronequill Publishers, Bangalore....