comfort v. desire

I’m winding down for the night with tea and bubbly cider, because I need all the beverages. Candles are lit and the cats dozing nearby.

Today was peaceful, working from home. While following me around as I talked on the phone to a coworker, Pickles discovered the pot of microgreens leaning into the sun from a pot on the kitchen counter. She enjoyed them tremendously. I guess I didn’t need that tasty salad topping after all.

I went for a walk along the beach, discovering that past the fallen trees, and around the second bend, the houses stop. You are alone on an expanse of pebbles and glistening, seal-gray sand stretching to the horizon.

Immersed in nothing-space, your brain has no choice but to open up.

When I’m on the beach I sometimes pick up rocks and twigs that look like creatures I want to draw. I look for ones that don’t have anything living in them, of course. Some seem to have lives of their own.

Tonight I meditated on the idea of comfort. We think of comfort as something to pursue, but to me, comfortable situations too often feel like a hideout. For example, I moved away from home after high school like you’re “supposed to,” but after a couple of months, I moved back in with my folks. It took a few years for me to successfully move out. You could offer all kinds of understanding explanations for why I didn’t move out on my own, and some of them would be valid, but ultimately I was just afraid to live. At my parent’s house, I couldn’t forget to pay a bill, or fall in love with a bad guy, or even buy a tacky couch.

I was safe in a borrowed life.

I’ve lived on my own now for many years. I can pick out a couch that is not tacky. I can fall out of love with the bad guy. I can handle the late fee on the missed bill. But I still don’t really truly live. Most of us don’t. It’s just too easy to be distracted by the mundane details this privileged First World life of ours. Paleo or Whole 30? Netflix or TV? Sneakers or boots?

It’s entirely possible to devote your entire mental resource to dumb, forgettable everyday life. Friction with a coworker, returning that seven dollar item at the grocery store, what your mom said on your last phone call. Things you won’t remember in five years, and yet they take up all your mental energy.

We do this to avoid thinking about how much we want to quit our job, buy the red high heels, sell the house in the suburbs for a studio in the city, go on a Caribbean cruise, and on and on and on. We think about dumb stuff to avoid thinking about really good stuff that we are afraid we won’t really enjoy or won’t really be able to pull off or won’t really be good at.

Better to think about Costco instead.

So this question of comfort and desire sits with me tonight. Let’s light another candle and ponder it.