Playing with Discomfort

This week I have put it before myself to do something big each day. To dare. To risk. To move beyond my comfort zone.

That topic has me thinking about my relationship with insecurity. In Mating in Captivity, author Esther Perel, talks to the conflict that comes between our desire to create comfort and security in our romantic relationships while desiring mystery and risk for our erotic connections. We desire to create order and constancy to feel secure and then struggle with how this can pull the passion out of our mating.

I look to this same dichotomy when examining the general approach in North America to create security in every part of our lives. We want the feeling of stability in everything. We demand it in our travel, at our borders, in our homes. We can’t sleep if the door might be unlocked, if there may be bugs in our bed, if there’s conflict in our neighbourhood or even simply on TV. Not that it isn’t a good thing to have these types of security but in many areas of the world they live quite happily with less. I was intrigued when I read that National Geographic’s happiness survey found some of the happiest places on earth to be in west Africa where they live with far more insecurity than anywhere near my backyard.

It’s easy to equate security with comfort and insecurity with discomfort. If you’re uncomfortable, create more security, bring order out of chaos. Yet this is not necessarily a requirement to live in this space. Thrill seekers experience insecurity and joy. Excitement really is the combination of happiness and fear. Learning requires that you move into new places and the more you can stomach being on an edge the more you can gain.

This is where I’m interested to sit. Not to stamp down the edges but instead to be at peace with risk. Not only to tolerate discomfort but to be someone who seeks it out. To dance with the tightness in my chest and see that as an indicator of a new and undiscovered country. Something not to avoid but to embrace.