Smart people in book reviews always discuss the adventurous souls who leave their "Comfortable Life" to sail the ocean for a decade, as mavericks and such. Read any book cover with an inspirational tone, and you will find the same review repeated, and the same core parable. It never fails that someone will note the "courage" of giving up all sorts of earthly fare and daily comfort to explore far-flung concessions of natural beauty, and epic challenge . "Leaving the comfortable life", is how the memoir will be reviewed, and we don't really need to give you the title of this book, as the review is always the same. We awe and ogle at the uncertain prospect, for which we don't have enough guts or passion to endeavor upon. We are comfortable. We may be inspired to buy a new pair of Boots or some Gore-Tex, but we won't use it that way. We know however, that the next review will cough up the same claim, sew the same envy, and awe, as we languish in the "The Comfortable Life". They've left this behind for adventure on the:
1. High Seas,
2. The Cascade Mountains,
3. The Finca of a Coastal Coffee Plantation... the list goes on...
So how are we to read that?, is the Comfortable life the thing that they are detaching from? Are they leaving the warm comfort of Carbohydrates, Big-Gulps, Cellophane wrapped single-serving profanities, and Microwave entrees? Is that the one we are talking about? Are we comfortable?, Or are we oversaturated sponges of consumerism, in an advertopian feedback loop? Are we so comfortable? -- Without needing a seventh pair of new running shoes to look the part in that 5k next week? Are we able to run the race without the participatory T'shirt, and the instagram post? Can we just run someplace, ride someplace, and not track the mileage?, the heart rate?, the watts?...
I guess that the Comfortable life we are leaving may also have something to do with having your property taxes doubled to ebb a city budget gap. The 'comfortable' concussion from falling backward off your bar-stool. Is this the comfort life we are leaving behind? The daily struggle to smile at dickhead coworkers which you despise, and the disgraceful comfort of not having the rent money on time?
I suppose this is the comfortable life, which adventurers leave behind when they pack it up, buy a pick-up, and head down to wherever... Perhaps to LAX en-route to someplace less "knowable". I've read about many so called adventurers and their exploits, gracelessly challenging themselves to ingest along a seemingly less travelled path, grit, gravel, bug-bites, scabs and all. I've also read about Migrants who walk across five countries just to get incarcerated in the U.S. Is it because that's actually a banner reprieve compared to their so called "Comfortable Life"? I am stuck on the not so fine line between the elective escapist, and the compulsory adventurer. Migration is a good word, which we tend to not consider when we speak of migrants. Anyone leaving someplace, such as college, to move elsewhere... is a migrant. Immigrants, on the one hand, with or without prospects for a perfect outcome, take a chance upon the endeavor. Each coin toss yields about the same or worse odds. Leaving one maligned, sordid, and toxic bubble for another. "The Comfort Bubble". A nation of immigrants, if you consider where you live now, and where you've left.
Looking objectively at the concept, those of us snug inside our comfort bubble may imagine that it is a myth. After-all, Santa was a Myth, and so were the parables in that book you worshipped. Your Pension may be a myth, as is "Social Security", Healthcare, and Guilt-free junk-food. We all lie to ourselves in our bubble of confirmation bias, and we all tidy up the ends to make the means seem sensible, but most of us are drifters.
It's true that if you have no other choice, you will be happy with what you've got. That is to say; If you buy a shirt on sale from a store that doesn't allow returns, you are far more likely to love it. Whereas, if you do the same from a place with more options and liberal return policy, you will be less likely to even wear the same... You will also possibly lose sleep over your selection. Was it the right choice? -- What about the other one?... If you are left to ruminate about the two or three other options, you will struggle with whether you made the right choice ad-absurdum. It may be that people's choices are far too vast to live a settled life. Removing some of the 95 flavors of tooth-paste, and 75 bristle combinations, couldn't possible lead to clean teeth, right? Remember when your choices were simple?, and you thought merely about the present? What pack of candy can I get for 25 cents?
Your 'Bubble' & your bubble gum hate you, and want you gone!!. You dwell in the most conflicted and deleterious swarm of bullshit choices, and although you've made a few hundred today, you still can't get settled. Isn't it a wonderfully sleepless time to be alive, you spend 6 hours a day glued to a screen, 6 minding politics, 6 eating crap, and the remaining 6 sleeping restlessly. But you are O.K.
Sure, I think you are a dick-head; but that doesn't mean that everyone will. In fact, someplace you will be admired, but if you follow the dangling (anti-)social media carrot, you know you will never get to eat, you'll starve anyway. Through this lens, perhaps an impulsive drop-everything escape is not so risky. Except for uncertainty.
Funny that the thing we all fear is the same. Like dating & job searches -- Uncertainty is holding us back. But is it really uncertainty? For certain it is, but only the uncertainty of being told "NO". Fear of dismissal, failure, rejection, seems to be where the uncertainty is focused. If you could know that the job, or the person would unconditionally accept you, then you'd jump. That's why we have APPs, because they increase our odds many fold. Hours of soul-searching has revealed that I have only one thing that I'm guarding against. One thing that hours of meditation brings to mind that prevents me from leaving the comfortable life behind for sustained adventure... Coffee.
Now... Put yourself on a sail-boat with only one other human for ten days or ten years, and note how well you get along. Your problem is not your spouse, it's the other choices... All of those other people sticking their asses in your face every day. All of those ice-cream flavors. You know what?... Most people really deep down inside don't give a shit about the crap they eat, and the melange of Pretzels, Nuts, Gummi-Worms, and Preservatives in their favorite quart of dairy-free frozen dessert. They care only about the adventure, and that freezer case represents all of the choices that they won't make anyway. You are in a bubble, and it's a prison. Can't you just pick an ice cream and eat it? You are in the freezer case, and you can't get out until you choose one. Salted Caramel, Mint-chip, Butter Pecan?...
Adventure, or Asylum? in your case the two words mean roughly the same thing. How will you fill the void? A good read on your Kindle?, A clever pod-cast?, A 6 hour Netflix Marathon with countless servings of cellophane wrapped microwave food? Perhaps a run through the park? A Picnic? A swim...?
If I could know for certain that each place I was to travel would have a single-origin, fair-trade fully washed Yirgacheffe, then I would not fear my uncertainty. I have never travelled without the safety net of a decent bag of coffee. I know I am a prick without, so I carry coffee with me, like a quaalude. If you've had to suffer the indignity of Nescafe packets in your Hotel, you could know for certain that the day would certainly be shit. I am certain about this one thing... If I could know for certain that the destination, and the dots on the map would be lined with great coffee, then I could make the leap. I've suffered an ocean crossing when the beer and booze runs out. I've endured holidays with hostile relatives, where the food is shit, and conversation stalls in idiotic political stalemate -- But I've never let myself become so depraved as to not have access to good coffee.
Once you identify your uncertainty, which is most assuredly fear of rejection or failure, then Maybe you will 'cash-out' and walk away from your so called "Comfortable Life"; But if you do, could you please take our exit survey? You know the one... The small kiosk with the four emoticon buttons ranging from Red Frowny-face to Green Gleeful-smile? Which one do you press as you flee your oppressive comfort bubble? "Everyone can benefit from your selection..." "These metrics will feed into the great mind-fuck database and will help others to make similar bull-shit choices". Tempted to tap the Frown, are you? but is/was it really that bad? Can you be sure that your next move will be better; That it will actually improve? How can we earn your Smiley emoticon? Do they have an exit survey for this life?, the one you are tending so carefully. What if you thought of every choice as being followed up with a survey? Would you answer honestly? Would this change you're selections. When you press that button, will you regret your selection? Are you uncertain?
Are you leaving because someone didn't like your short story?, or your work performance? Are you leaving because someone threatened your family?, or was it just your pride?
Leave already!! Get your stuff packed! You don't need to pull everything out of your closet to pack a bag, because you know that the only clothes you actually wear are in the laundry basket. You have a rotating array of the same old shit, which parallels your routines, and you don't really have that much other stuff that you love, or would miss. Vanilla, Chocolate?, "Same as it ever was... Same as it ever was", Thank you David Byrne! Put that shit in a bag. The rest is Just stuff that you pack around your head at night to snuff out the background noise. It's the noise, real, and metaphorical which we all struggle with. Eat the ice cream, buy two.
Shakespeare poignantly said in Henry the VI, (Part 2 Act IV scene 2)...; "The first thing we do (comma) let's kill all the lawyers". Well we could consider that, if they aren't already dead in their bubble. They are doing themselves in, so why bother. Anyway it was "Dick the Butcher" who said it, and as far as Shakespeare characters go, I'm pretty sure he was a bad dude. You know who Dick is right?... Have you looked a shark in the eye? Yeah, same dead stare. That's Dick. I'm compelled to think it's not the worst plan, but what about the advertising execs? (If you had less choices, would you be so miserable?) These executives of B.S. could be second on the list. Wait, isn't it Google's fault? ...Fool me twice, as the saying goes. It's your fault. When people check into a provincial B&B, Road-trip, or tour the countryside, what is it that they seek? What is "Camping", if not a deliberate reprieve from advertising? A quiet respite, a walk in the woods, where no signs will sell you a damn thing. A sail across the ocean where only whales and water surround you. Your (anti-)social media won't save you from a desperately lonely life. Nor will stuff. Be deliberate when you decide to leave the thing that you call comfortable. Put your pencils in a cup, stack your papers, delete your browsing history, sign-off.
Be deliberate when you leave work today, perhaps for the last time. If you return, do so with a story.
Get packed up to leave our comfort bubble, it's shitty anyway...
Blurred coastline passes