My security blanket is on fire

by Rebecca A. Watson on November 25, 2008

in certainty, comfort, habits

On the eve of the union election at work I have become painfully aware of uncertainty. Will we vote to be in the union or not? For months I have been telling myself how important it is to be comfortable being uncomfortable, and I gotta say I thought I was getting pretty good at it.

My friend and I were talking about words or concepts that are meaningless. Things like “normal” and “perfect” were two we could both agree on. The words mean something so different to everyone. And tonight I wonder: What is certainty? What is comfort? Are these words so relative that they are also nebulous?

What are we certain of? The old adage tells us only taxes and death. What provides us comfort? I would argue that many of the things we think provide us comfort are only habits long formed.

People will stay in an unsatisfying relationship with their dentist, spouse, hairdresser, etc. just because the thought of leaving is too much of a hassle. We cook the same six recipes because our brains don’t have to work to choose new ones, remember to buy ingredients and go through different motions in the kitchen. The more I think about the things that provide me with what I thought was comfort, the more I realize maybe I’ve just been doing them because I’ve always been doing them.

I read a story about how an old spiritual teacher would tie his cat up while he was leading meditation to keep it from bothering others. The teacher died but the cat lived for a few more years, during which time it would always be tied up during meditation. When the cat died no one would meditate because they believed the cat needed to be tied up in order for meditation to be effective. They never knew or had forgotten the reason it was tied up to begin with.

Being comfortable has led to a lot of laziness. Asking why we do things and why something makes us feel the way it does may take a little work, but is well worth it. We may suddenly see why life is so beautiful and how little we need for it to be that way.

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