Comfort in Discomfort

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‘Do people who run marathons know they don’t have to?’ This was the first thing I seen today on Facebook. I’m no marathon runner, nor do I have any incline to do so, so what are people’s drives to that which brings great discomfort?

I watched ‘Free Solo’ and ‘The Dawn Wall’ recently, a feat of which seems to bear an even larger question than the scale of the mountain, WHY? The two climbers shared a similar mindset which spanned over a decade of climbing the same wall (El Capitan, Yosemite) the premise being mastering every small detail of the climb, or DIE. How close do we need to be to death or at least the thought of it, to propel us further away from it? Do we tightly embrace the heat and warmth of security knowing that each day could be our last or a revelling assurance at what we have that others do not. How relentless do we have to be to secure that which we deem most dear? Feats and fortune, family and friends, a conflict of the comforts of consolation when we fail aside the discomfort of failure itself. Is it merely a  hunger of endorphins that add motives to pursuits far removed from the frivolity of life, or is adrenaline a drug just packaged differently, without any stigma or judgement attached. In this extreme, failure equals death, but in every other sense, the premise of failure should be acknowledged by a single stop as opposed to a destination.

We no longer live in Medieval times where building a moat around your estate sufficed against the covetous eyes of jealousy, though the security of our digital fortunes may dictate our fate. Now, in a digital age, one bad review or comment from the competition of opportunists can dictate our success or failure, making every decision one which has some level of fear attached to it, adrenaline. So am I saying that we get secretly get a kick out of being judged? Think a reserved shyness awaiting acknowledgement to the boisterous arrogance of acceptance, who benefits more from this inception of social identity?

But this is the risk that distinguishes those that laugh in the face of adversity and judgement, whether it defies your moral code or not, having your insecurities put under the microscope for all to see is not something we are prepared for. While I get that such a saturated market of girls, and guys, flexing their way to the ever fluctuating trends of the fitness industry will bring plenty of ‘fake it till you make it’s’ I massively respect anyone that puts themselves and their bodies on the line for people to judge, ‘this is me, take it or leave it’ flirting with the thought of falling to their death at one mis-step. All too often do we see the fact that people can dress themselves up with all the ingredients to fast-track their identity to acceptance, but if your dish has all the same ingredients as someone else’s, is it really your recipe?

So what can we learn from thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies that flirt with death as we spectate and wonder HOW? As Ant Middleton says, “fear is just excitement” Where does this leave everything else which is uncomfortable, who and what is to greeted as a friend, or a comforting foe that secretly enjoys your discomfort? Get comfortable being uncomfortable, acknowledge the position that you find yourself in regardless of being at the top or the bottom. Don’t go on the defensive and wait for the cunning of hungrier bellies to steal from your plate, finish everything you start and leave no scraps to feed other people’s ego’s. Embrace the thrill of the unknown rather than knowing exactly what you’re getting and no further. Being the smartest, strongest or most wealthy person in the room isn’t always a good thing. Don’t be weak, but don’t hesitate to be the weakest in a room full of stronger characters, a student, an apprentice, on areas to which are uncomfortable rather than just fashioning knowledge without conviction.

Make the steps firstly with your hands and feet, knowing that they are connected and not just autonomously leading you to your death. Think your way out of problems that arise with your physical body rather than going in ‘head first’ and overthinking every single potential outcome that CAN or COULD. No one got anywhere by having a million and one ideas in their head and no clear direction of what actually bears a solid purpose. That’s why procrastination is equally as useful in the creative process as the end goal, seeing and acknowledging the useful from the useless. Upon facing a deadline or solution to a problem we see every other alternative, not because we don’t know the right thing to do, but we undoubtedly know the worst thing to do, nothing. I COULD work but i’d rather not, we see the possibilities rather than the simplicity of the answer as if it were too clear cut to be true, ‘The Elixir of Life’ Is it A. Exercise everyday B. Smoke everyday C. Take Regular holidays D. Have a perfect diet. Well it can’t be D because there’s no such thing, i’ll take whichever pick out of A,B, or C that suits me. We talk ourselves out of discomfort and into comfort at every opportunity, how would our decisions fare without this lackadaisical charge which only confines us to our previous choices.

Jake.

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