Monday, August 17, 2020

Is Comfort Overrated? Or is it Underappreciated?

So, regarding the advisability of going on my latest camping trip.

This was as I was preparing to set out on a mid-day hike the first day I got to Colorado Bend State Park.

Was I comfortable camping with no hookups during the hottest month of a Central Texas summer where afternoon temps hit triple-digits with humidity up in the uncomfortable range, and morning temps are still high and the air even thicker?

Oh hell no!

But then again I'm not an idiot so I didn't expect to be comfortable. (Here's the point where some of you out there are thinking "Oh yeah, he's an idiot!")

So why did I do it?

Well first, it's hiking and camping. Duh!

This was just before sunrise the next day

But another reason is that, in my opinion anyway, many of us spend far too much time bowing before the throne of comfort.

It's an evolutionary thing, the drive to seek out comfort. After all, the guy (And I'm using the northeastern "youse guys" here which covers all sexes.) that seeks the comfort of a warm cave is more likely to survive, at least to breeding age where this trait can then be passed on, than the guy who walks face-first into the blizzard while laughing.

Evolution has served us hominoids well for about 2 million years, getting us through challenging times when branches of the family, (actually scientifically classified as the superfamily of Hominidae) those that didn't go extinct anyway, are estimated to have numbered as little as a few hundred during the worst of times.

But frankly some of those evolutionary traits haven't been doing us homo-sapiens any favors for the last 20,000 years. Things like  a propensity to violence, (The guy with the biggest stick and a willingness to use it survives.) bigotry (The guy that fears those that look different or don't share the same beliefs is more likely to survive than the guy that walks up to strangers with open arms - see propensity to violence -) and greed. (The guy with the most stuff is more likely to survive the winter.)

Like all evolutionary traits, the desire to seek out comfort is hard to shut off on short notice, (Our latest, "civilized" 20,000 years is about 1% of our 2 million years of evolution, so yeah, that's short notice.) and today, with technology and economic circumstances making comfort so readily attainable for many of us, that's not necessarily a good thing.

This has resulted in people that are literally incapable of functioning outside the "comfort zone" long enough to carry on a two-sentence conversation before having to stumble, completely debilitated, back into the AC in order to function.

I think a good part of this is because they have suckled at the teat of comfort for so long their zone of tolerance, that area either side of comfortable in which they can still function effectively, has shrunk away to nothing. I've seen first-hand how life-limiting this can be and would prefer to avoid it myself.

After all, unless you occasionally gnaw on over-cooked flank-steak you can't truly appreciate the exquisiteness of  a perfectly prepared filet mignon. If you haven't frozen your toes for hours in the slush of an early spring you'll miss out on the true joy of a hot drink warming your insides while a hot fire toasts the outside. Unless you spend time sweltering in triple-digits you'll miss out on the orgasmic quality of a rain-cooled 85 degree breeze.

Too much of most anything, including comfort, results in over-familiarity, under-appreciation, and a flat life. A life lived close to either side of the median, well away from the painful lows, but also the exhilarating highs. And when you think about it, they don't write biographies about those that have lived flat lives.

Not that I want a biography written about me, but I do think I owe it to myself, my parents, and the rest of my ancestors that gave me this gift of life, to live a rich one that covers the full spectrum of the experience.

Bad cameramanship here as my phone is actually showing 1908 (7:08 PM)

So back to the original questions:

Is comfort overrated? Only those who have too much of it might think so.

Is comfort underappreciated? Again, only by those that have too much of it.


  1. Well said, although I prefer discomfort on the cold or wet side over Texas heat.

    1. I'm not adverse to enduring a little cold once in a while, but after 40 years down here in Texas heat's not so bad.