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Comfort Zones and Breaking Them

mturer's picture

Hello! My name is Max Turer and I am a sophomore

a. Rank the five locations in order of where you felt happiest.
1.) Morris Woods
2.) The glass staircase in Dalton Hall
3.) English House 1
4.) Park Science 20
5.) Campus Center parking lot

b. What influenced your comfort level? Why did you rank the locations the way you did?
Like most people, I am used to a daily routine. Routines change, but I always have one and I'm not sure I like it. Because of this, I felt happiest in the places that were the least familiar to me. In this situation, I would even say that my comfort level and "comfort zone" are inversely related. The parking lot looks like any other parking lot, and I think I have spent an unfortunate amount of my life walking through parking lots. Park Science not only has the quality of being the place where I took most classes last year, but also looks uncannily like the place where I attended middle and high school. While I am used to classrooms, English House 1 is a new classroom for me. I have only been in the room once and it represents a new semester, new information, and new experiences. Walking up the glass staircase in Dalton was especially interesting to me because even though I look out of the glass to see the same campus I walk through every day, I see the campus from a different perspective, making an unusual experience out of something very normal to me. After having spent most of my life in southern Florida where real grass does not even exist, the ground is most often sand the color and texture of bleached flour, and every other tree in sight is either a palm or a mangrove, the nature of Morris Woods is a thing of another universe.

c. Rank the five locations in order of where you felt plants were happiest.
1.) Morris Woods
2.) English House
3.) The glass staircase
4.) Campus Center Parking Lot
5.) Park Science

d. What influences the comfort level of plants? Why did you rank the locations the way you did?
I think plants enjoy being left to be plants instead of being given a function. Plants do not like to be used as a tool for humans. Plants seem to be unhappy when they are being studied or being used as a decoration to benefit humans, and they seem to be happy when they have things like sunlight or water that benefit themselves. Maybe plants are selfish, or maybe they just want to be left alone. Morris Woods are sunny and damp, and the plants grow in any way they can imagine. They allow themselves to tangle with one another as if they are making a friend, and each individual plant is part of something larger (the woods) that is in itself a natural entity. English House plants seem relatively happy as they are still mostly being left to their own devices, but they are pieces of a whole that is “English House,” a human creation. Also, the chairs made out of past trees probably seem a bit intimidating to them. In the staircase, plants have been moved from their natural setting and are being used for decoration, but as the staircase is uncommonly sunny, they are also given natural care rather than solely human care. The parking lot is surrounded by a huge amount of loud human activity and the plants are not only decorations, but are underappreciated decorations. Park Science is the least hospitable to plants, I believe, because a science lab is the epitome of human intrusion upon nature. Human observation does wonderful things for us, but turns plants into tools for our benefit when they would rather just be what they are.

e. What similarities are there between what plants and humans find most comfortable?
Plants and humans both crave simplicity. The smallest amount of unwanted interference possible causes both plants and humans to be happy and comfortable.

f. What differences are there between what plants and humans find most comfortable?
My partiality to new places and experiences is exactly the opposite of plants’ preference to remain in their natural environment. Humans are mobile beings; we need movement to survive and to be happiest. Plants, though a million things are happening at once inside of them, grow out of a place in the ground and claim that space, hopefully, for the rest of their lives. Humans must explore beyond their comfort zones to thrive and plants must remain inside of them.