I picked this word, as I mentioned, partly because I have been struggling with a bad back, so the concept was close to my consciousness. The other reason was that I felt that I wanted a bit of a challenge. I find it easier to write about ‘happy’ words – partly because the ‘mission statement’ of the blog is the positive things in my life. But discomfort is a part of life – even if you don’t have a bad back! For example, I find early spring a fairly uncomfortable time of year. There are signs of green, but it’s still wet, it’s overcast a lot, and it’s really cold. It’s hard to pick the right clothes if you go outside. It’s getting lighter in the evenings but not enough to make a real difference. So you feel you should be happy and optimistic, but somehow you’re…not.
Anyway, I was thinking about discomfort and what it means to be uncomfortable, and I remembered a prayer a dear friend’s mother read at her wedding. It is the prayer of Sir Francis Drake, and it begins:
“Disturb us, Lord, when we are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true because we have dreamed too little,
When we arrive safely because we sailed too close to the shore.
It seemed an odd thing to read at a wedding – and at the same time, absolutely perfect. Because in relationships, as in life, it is so easy to seek comfort, to prioritise comfort, to avoid ‘rocking the boat’. But sometimes difficult conversations must be had, there may be times apart, there may be grief or trouble. To put them to one side in the attempt to seek comfort can put at risk a step on the journey into real happiness. You can’t get smooth edges without friction, and you can’t get a shine without rubbing against something.
Obviously, sometimes it’s not possible to escape perennial discomfort – but often it’s just a sign that something – your body, your mind, your ‘soul self’, your creativity, your something – needs more room. The discomfort is you pressing up against the edges. I get overwhelmed by clutter, or things to read, or paper – and always feel like I’ve got more room to breathe, to think, when I get rid of some. When I used to run there was always a point between 12 and 16 miles when I thought that I wouldn’t be able to keep going. I’d hit the wall, feel like my knees were giving in and every breath was a battle… and then suddenly, it would get easier. When I was giving birth to my daughter, I moaned at one point, ‘I can’t do this’. And the midwife said, ‘Ah, when mum says that, the baby’s nearly here!’ Although, I have to say, ‘discomfort’ doesn’t even come close to describing that particular situation…
So perhaps ‘discomfort’ isn’t always a negative word after all. Perhaps it can be a prompt to get us to think about how we can make things better. To have that conversation. To try that thing that’s really hard. To say no. To say yes. To try again where you’ve failed. To forgive someone’s trespasses – or to forgive your own. To cut your losses and start all over again.
Or to do your hip rolls and book an appointment with the osteopath.
Here are the others who are playing this week. Go and visit them!
Who wants to host next week, then? Post a comment if you do – you don’t have to have played this week (or ever!)
The lovely Katy is hosting next. Pop across to see what she’s chosen!