On Comfort

on 27 August 2010

I was chatting with my sister last week and I blurted out my latest opinion.

Comfort is highly over-rated.

Now, don't get me wrong, there are DIScomforts that shouldn't be forced.  Having been one of those girls who kept a different standard growing up, who refused to drink or smoke or run off to get high, or participate in other questionable behaviors--there are some discomforts that are uncomfortable because they are BAD--bad for your body and bad for your soul.

The comfort of which I am speaking is the comfort that can only be found in a self-absorbed and coddled life.  The kind of comfort that is nurtured by people afraid to get their hands dirty, afraid to discipline their children; people who avoid certain choices because it cramps their style or interferes with their personal recreation.  I find myself irritated when people deny themselves opportunities because there won't be running water, electricity, they don't speak the language, their body might not return to its previous shape, there may be blood and GOO, it could be gross or painful or (oh NO!) BOTH.  When people make excuses for their own selfish choices, they don't have the time, or the money, or a house or a nicer car.

Chris and I had had a related conversation earlier in the day regarding doctors and the treatment of cancer.  We were listening to a program on NPR about unconventional cancer treatments and I was expressing my befuddlement at doctors' total unwillingness to TRY something different if the conventional treatment isn't working.  Chris said, "It's about comfort.  This is what they do all day every day.  This is what they know.  This is what's been tested and tried for 20 years and so it's what they trust.  It's about comfort."  What made it all the more interesting was that not 10 minutes later the researchers they were interviewing said the EXACT same things.  That the doctors are unwilling to step beyond their comfort zones, even when it MIGHT help the patient.

Sure, we all have our pet comforts--mine is conditioned air.  Every single summer I wonder why the early female settlers of the American southeast didn't rise up in rebellion against corsets, petticoats and long sleeves.  I am STUNNED that the area was a successful settlement at all, given the almost inhuman summers.  Chris' pet comfort is the internet.  My man gets the DTs when he's without access for longer than a few days.  Everyone has their own, and I am not devoid of understanding for those comforts.  My point is that we should never let our love of comfort come between us and Opportunity.  

Having just spent a year totally and completely outside of my comfort zone, this kind of attitude now makes me crazy.

Here is M, standing on the other side of a YEAR outside of her comfort zone.  I come from the Land of Discomfort to testify to YOU that you can be UNcomfortable and it will not (in fact) kill you.  You will adapt, you will even (perhaps) find things that are exotic that you enjoy in the Land of Discomfort.  You will grow as a person.  And you just might come out the other side, convinced as I am that Comfort is highly over-rated.