Comfort: A right or a privilege?

I’m not sure why, but every time I hear a certain commercial, I feel some frustration. I’m sure you’ve heard it. A famous actress comments on a well-known brand of furniture by imploring the listener to “live life comfortably.” Something about the tone of the ad just comes across like there should be an expectation of comfort. So that we’re clear, I’m not against comfort. I like my comfortable bed, my recliner, my sofa. I appreciate having a comfortable, adjustable chair to sit in at work. I even enjoy a level of comfort in the vehicle I drive, despite its age. But I think there is a difference in wanting those things and expecting them.

Maybe it’s the month I spent in Papua New Guinea back in 1982. Seeing people satisfied with the very little earthly possessions they owned changed me. The way the people sang with uninhibited strength was energizing, to say the least. People walk for miles to get to a church service or carry heavy loads of produce or wares to care for their families. I watched a nurse clean and bandage the burned belly of an infant who had rolled into the fire kept going the majority of the day for cooking. As a layer of skin peeled off in her hands, I made an effort to hold back the tears. Then she told me that the child would most likely have serious scars due to the parent’s not understanding the need for changing bandages to prevent infection, as well as the lack of clean supplies.

Maybe it was the trip to a remote village in Alaska with a group of teenagers. It was clear that I take so much for granted when we were required to refrain from flushing any paper down the two toilets to which our group of 21 had access. And the only showers were a quarter mile down the road. They were coin operated and we tried to get two or three people rotated through on the $1.50/10 minute sessions. (Quite an interesting planning maneuver that was! I learned a lot from those teenagers and I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.)

Or maybe it’s the occasional trips I get to make back to the place I call home. Seeing how simply people live and the strength they show by being satisfied with what they have gives me perspective.

I am not preaching here. I’m not saying you must turn your back on all things comfortable. I’m sharing my own new desire to live more simply. To not be drawn in by “stuff.” To always appreciate what I have and the wonderful people in my life who touch, move, and inspire me to be better each day. To even appreciate the people who have made me uncomfortable enough to grow and not be satisfied with anything less than my best.

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