..... I've spent a great amount of time today thinking of the idea of comfort...... just what it might take to make someone - an average someone - comfortable......... and just why it varies from each of us.......

..... I have been in quite a few uncomfortable places during my short time on this planet.... most of them from my own doing..... but I always managed to dig, scrounge, and claw myself towards a tiny inkling of comfort in each place....

.... Sam Williams and I once found ourselves near the summit of Mt. Moffett on Adak Island and trapped by a whiteout.... the ridge was too steep for us to put up our tent, and we ended up spending 18 hours in our sleeping bags until the storm abated..... it was a bit rough...... 18 hours is a long time to lay on your back while being pelted by the best that the winds of the Bering Sea can throw at you...... I spent my time in that sleeping bag eating chocolate bars, cussing Sam, drinking water, praying, and sleeping...... Sam said later that he could hear me snoring - just three feet away from him - over the angry howl of the wind quite a few times during the night......

.... I remember sleeping near the flooded quarry at Kinlochleven one November.... the sheets of rain had caused the water to stand two inches deep across the campsite where the rest of 45 Commando and I slept..... we all awoke soaking wet in the Highlands of Scotland the next morning and then practiced 'river crossings' until it was time to abseil down the 250ft cliffs that rose above the quarry...... two days later we were kicking our frozen boots loose from the floors of our tents each morning while we greeted the day on the summit of Ben Nevis...... Arctic Survival & Mountain Training was a miserable experience..... but each day I managed to find that I was somehow dry and warm..... tired, sure..... and wet again by nightfall..... but for those brief moments, I was at least warm and dry...... and in looking back now, I remember those warm and dry moments the most..... I suspect that a lot of those Royal Marines look back on it all now and only remember the cold & wet.... and how it made each step that you took painful........

..... it's weird, I suppose..... odd how we all reflect differently....... external pressures find a way of harshing our collective mellows one way or another over time..... that's just how it is.... be it a bad day at the office, an argument with the wife or husband, a wayward sibling, or whatever...... we worry...... we want and cannot have.... we wish and our well-tossed silver coins fall on empty wells..... we seek comfort and only focus on the pain and labor of daily life.......

.... but in the end, we only see what we choose to see..... and believe it or not, that is a salient fact.....

..... so, the question is, what is it that you need to be comfortable..... the presence of your mate?.... a roof over your head?..... job satisfaction?...... respect?..... a good meal?...... the contented smiles of your children?.... a personal relationship with the god of your choice?.......the lack of pain, hunger, cold, or want?...... a cushioned couch and your tipple of choice every evening?...... a plate of lasagna on a cold, windy day? .... writing half a chapter in your novel instead of three sentences wrought from staring at the wall?....

.... this has been on my mind all day...... the Idea of Comfort.....

.... for me, I honestly cannot say just now as I have not come to a distinct conclusion....... but looking back on all of the times when I have hated life, there were always those moments - however fleeting - where something beautiful was given to me when I least expected it..... a bite of chocolate and a cup of coffee when I was on the edge of hypothermia, being commanded to 'stop' when I was at the end of my rope with exhaustion, being told 'thank you' when I opened the door for someone after the worst day of my life..... or even just a few lines of exquisite verse after a day that had crushed your soul......

..... my goodness....... comfort - for me - means finding the grain of good amongst the heaping pile of bad...... and trying to do that every single day.......

by Eric on January 30, 2008 | Bullshit (23) | TrackBack (0) | Thinking
Bullshit So Far

That was, in a word, breathtaking. Not to mention, it certainly gives one pause to reflect, which I will be doing now, as I step away from the computer for the night. My idea of comfort, I'm pleased to be able to say, is quite the same as yours [fortunately, I did not have to spend 18 hours in a sleeping bag braving the harsh winds of the Bering Sea]. But's a nice thing to think about.

Bullshitted by Erica on January 30, 2008 09:23 PM

Comfort is a long and varying list for me hoss... I've never needed all the comforts at once, but the comforts I've needed sure have changed over time. What comforted me once, doesn't anymore... and so comfort progresses, or we do. Comforts change.

Bullshitted by RedNeck on January 30, 2008 09:54 PM

This is one of these Eric posts that sneaks up on you...and hits the mark dead solid perfect. "Grain of Good" indeed.

Bullshitted by Elisson on January 30, 2008 11:10 PM

I've been trying to figure that out myself. Thanks for the perspective.

Bullshitted by hammer on January 30, 2008 11:49 PM

It's good to be reminded that one has to look for that comfort sometimes, because it is often offered to you, and sometimes not noticed.

But it's there, if only fleetingly, and it's yours to grasp.

Bullshitted by Nancy on January 31, 2008 02:09 AM

Damned fine piece of writing, that.

Bullshitted by Jim - PRS on January 31, 2008 02:24 AM

I'm with everyone else, what a great post.

Comfort. I think being around the people I love and everyone laughing. On a more simplistic and shallow basis, it is of course, chocolate, but in the bigness of life... it is the people I love. Even thinking about them when things are pretty crappy will see me through.

Bullshitted by Bou on January 31, 2008 07:02 AM

Beautiful post, perfectly timed! Another great morning cup of coffee, thanks.

Now I am off to process what it is that I need to find comfort. I have a feeling it is easier than I think. I think!

Bullshitted by Michelle on January 31, 2008 07:09 AM

very beautifully said. and what a mission for you, finding the grain of good. nicely put, eric.

Bullshitted by supergurl on January 31, 2008 08:08 AM

Comfort means just being in the same vicinity as my husband. Praying. A cup of coffee when I need one. The small things.
But reading a brilliant post like this one takes an equal share, surely, because it feeds the soul.

Bullshitted by pam on January 31, 2008 08:17 AM

Now that is a fine way to wake up. Reading a bit of true wisdom. Eric, you've a way of causing me to think 90 degrees to how I was going, and I often find you right. Keep up this fine, fine blog.
And Bou, Chocolate with a Mt. Dew does it for me. Color me redneck.

Bullshitted by kdzu on January 31, 2008 08:30 AM


Bullshitted by GUYK on January 31, 2008 09:34 AM

I think I wanna be you when I grow up.

Bullshitted by Freddie on January 31, 2008 12:26 PM

Everyone else beat me to it. Excellent Eric. Thank you.

Bullshitted by Teresa on January 31, 2008 01:11 PM

Damn! I hate it when someone makes me stop and think.

Right fine piece of writing.

Bullshitted by joated on January 31, 2008 03:23 PM

Ah comfort. The spontaneous embrace of a three year old who says, "I love you Grammy." The pup who rests his head on your lap and looks into your crying eyes with doggie empathy. The kindess of strangers. It comes when you least expect it and need it the most, I think.

Bullshitted by Libby on January 31, 2008 03:36 PM

Excellent post, Eric. Comfort for me is giving others comfort. A strange dichotomy at best, but there it is...

Lots to think about right there. Hmmmm...

Bullshitted by Richmond on January 31, 2008 05:41 PM

For me comfort is a feeling....I've felt it in soo many different's that FEELING you get when things are just clicking and going right or once you have found your nitch.

Bullshitted by Sandy on January 31, 2008 05:54 PM

This is one of the better articles I've seen on the net in a long time.

Bullshitted by Cappy on January 31, 2008 06:06 PM

Comfort is having people to laugh with when things turn to shit. Most times when I've been miserable, someone has managed to find something humorous in the situation - even in the face of the bleakness of death (not my own, of course). Then too, there's always the thought that without the bad times you wouldn't properly appreciate the good ones!

Bullshitted by Peggy U on January 31, 2008 11:06 PM

Damn. Why'd you have to go and stop my grump of a day? Now I've gone and put on Vivaldi and just let go. Thank you.

Bullshitted by Mrs. Who on January 31, 2008 11:08 PM

I've been pissed off most of the day about the recent crap the Mayor of Berkeley and it's city council has invoked upon the Marine Recruiting station there...come here, read, and're good.

Bullshitted by Tesa on February 1, 2008 04:09 PM

Found out this morning we are NOT going to lose our university, which has been a target since last year for closure.

Sitting at the table right now across from hubby with a steaming plate of mashed potatoes, meatloaf, peas and a glass of milk.

The sounds of the littlest one cavorting around downstairs are echoing in the background.

We are readying ourselves for a big winter storm coming tonight, the house is well-stocked and warm.

I'm looking forward to spending as much of the weekend as humanly possible right here in our little house.

And I just read this post...


Bullshitted by Lisa W. on February 1, 2008 05:29 PM