Monday, January 19, 2015

Too Comfortable

There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort. Jane Austen.

Seeking comfort seems to be an essential part of human nature, and, in the First World, we've got comfort down to not just an art form, but a science. Our houses, cars and places of business are climate controlled so we never have to experience excessive heat, cold, or humidity. We never walk when we could drive, never paddle when we could motor, never climb when we could ride a gondola. Even the food we eat is processed beyond recognition so that our pleasure centres are continually stimulated. 

The problem with comfort seeking is, if you let it rule your life, all growth - physical, mental, spiritual - stops, perhaps even regresses. Intuitively, we all understand that we need to move beyond our comfort zones to broaden our intellect, our ability, even our sense of self. But, moving outside your comfort zone is by its very nature, uncomfortable; and, the more First World we live, the harder and harder it is to experience any discomfit. Every hunger, thirst, desire is immediately quenched and, just as your legs atrophy if you don't walk anywhere, your ability to move outside your comfort zone shrinks until simply going without food long enough to feel real hunger becomes overwhelmingly difficult. 

Comfort is so relative. Doug and I live in a four metre space which can sometimes feel cramped but mostly seems to supply everything we really need and often feels like an oasis of comfort. We don't get wet when it rains, we can - to some degree - escape the bugs, we have lights, a fridge, a stove, a bed, some seats. Sometimes, when it is raining outside I sit inside our 4 metre box and marvel at how we can stay totally dry with such ease. Every year or so, we get sick of living in this small space, and move into a house for a spell. Living inside a house is great, for a while. In a house we can really escape the bugs (not watch them burrowing through the screens). If it's raining we can move about without knocking the other person over. We can download podcasts to listen to, and do yoga indoors instead of lying in the scratchy grass getting eaten by biting insects. We can shower every day instead of tipping a bucket of cold water from some scuzzy pond over our heads. Living in a house is just so incredibly comfortable.

After a while, however, living inside starts to pale. It starts to feel like its time to move out and move on. I begin to wonder if I'm getting too comfortable, if I've lost entirely the capacity to feel discomfit, even to suffer a little. That's the problem with comfort, it's so damn soothing that, after a while, all you want is more comfort and no challenge. But, as Neale Donald Walsch "life begins at the end of your comfort zone." 
Getting just a bit uncomfortable on
 an approach in the Coast Mountains, BC

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