Comfortable with Discomfort

[Some of my longer posts on Facebook become blog posts, like this one. Likewise, I share my blog posts with my Facebook audience. Yet some of you are not on Facebook—a decision I fully understand and support. For those of you who follow me in multiple venues, please be patient with the occasional repeated post. Or just read it a second time and see how it lands.]

On Saturday, after the farmer’s market, we sat on the back porch reading books. Currently, I’m rereading Pema Chödrön’s “When Things Fall Apart.” It’s the most dog-eared book in my library. I found it 20 years ago, while reading scads of self-help books. Pema’s words were so real and true. Things fall apart and then they come together and then they fall apart. Life isn’t just one way. We can’t expect pleasure without pain, love without heartbreak, praise without blame. Nothing is permanent.

The sky darkened and warning sirens sounded. Mark and I stayed on the porch, witnessing the weather: amazing gales of wind, downpours of sideways rain, leaves and branches falling from trees. Things were falling apart. I felt both fearful and alive. I noticed my attachment (no! not my flower bed) and my release (yes! to this powerful example of nature, impermanence, and reality).

In the end, there was substantial damage to trees, garages, and electrical wires. Gradually, we emerged from our homes, happily helping each other clean up, meeting new neighbors, and feeling grateful for our safety. Our power was out for 53 hours. Mark and I enjoyed the respite—no pull into the Internet, no hum of electricity, and candles lighting our way.

So often we think life “should” be a certain way. We “should” have access to electricity, Internet, and total comfort. But that’s not reality. Life is uncomfortable (it’s beautiful and wondrous, too). The more we get comfortable with discomfort, the more we live in reality. The more we escape discomfort, the more we go numb. I’m trying to inhabit the uncomfortable, uncertain, vulnerable, brave, alive, amazing experiences in life. I don’t need to seek them out: they come to me daily.

In Pema’s words: “Every day, at the moment when things get edgy, we can just ask ourselves: ‘Am I going to practice peace, or I am going to practice war?’” Practicing peace includes sinking into discomfort, loving ourselves through that process, and seeing others and the world anew—through a lens of compassion, care, and possibility.


practice peace