Comfort

Last night, as I considered what to keep and what to give away in preparation for our impending move, I was struck by the duality of my emotions about this change.

I am ready, I think, to explore new ways of being me; I may have become too comfortable and perhaps I need to be challenged and stretched.  Maybe, as the cliché goes, I need to “move outside my comfort zone.”  But I have grown accustomed to that comfort.  It fits me like a pair of old jeans, worn and washed so often their softness is like a caress.  There’s nothing wrong with comfort, so long as it doesn’t anesthetize one from feeling and empathizing with the discomfort of those who don’t share in that good fortune.

Yet, comfort can be a silent anesthetic.  Without realizing it, you can slip into a state of self-indulgence.  When I think of anesthetics, I think of a time I spend in the ER of a local hospital, thanks to an unknown malady that caused excruciating pain in my neck and shoulder.  To lessen the pain, the nurses gave me a dose of morphine.  It didn’t work, so I asked for more.  It didn’t work, so I begged for still more.  I awoke later, in a state of euphoria, utterly oblivious to the pain in my neck and shoulder and oblivious to the stress and fear my wife experienced—she had not known exactly where I was and could not reach me.  But the anesthetic made that fact matter little.

I ask myself what I want more, new experiences or more comfort?  And I answer: it doesn’t matter what you want, it’s what you need and your wife needs that matters.  So, my emotions dance around, gravitating first toward the new experience and then slipping back toward the comfort.

But I realize it’s not just comfort.  It’s seventeen years of building a life in a place where we have a few friends.  I’m not one to have many friends, but the few I have are important to me.  Having friends is not just comfort; it’s life.  So leaving friends, even leaving them to explore new opportunities, is hard.  It’s not just discomfort; it’s deeper than that.

Yet, leaving the seventeen-year edifice we’ve built does not mean tearing down friendships.  Those will last.  It just means shifting locations.  Finding new friends.  Building a new edifice.  Growing a new life, yet keeping the old one close.

Why do I get maudlin over such stuff?  It’s a trait I find more than mildly annoying, but only in myself.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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