As I write this it is mid-January. It is raining in California. The rain is welcome to be sure but boy it feels cold this year. By averages the temperature is actually pretty ordinary but the absence of sunlight makes the rain and cold seem to seep into my soul. My studio which is located in an uninsulated garage seems pretty unwelcoming at present. The wind is making it’s noisy assault on the eucalyptus trees across the street and I wonder if the years of drought have loosened the trees’ grip on the earth.
The thing that I seek most on days like this is comfort. I am so blessed, privileged really in my suburban home to be able to wear cozy slippers, put a fire in the fireplace and be warm and dry with eggs and an arugula salad breakfast warming my belly. Comfort.
We as humans seem to value comfort. We treat it like a bosom buddy nicknaming it “comfy”. Hygge, from Denmark and Norway is getting traction around the world as a noun and a verb celebrating and respecting all things cozy. I expect with their climate they would know a thing or two about this. Makes me sound a bit whiney sitting here with my relatively gentler climate. But cold is cold and we respond to it by finding our cozy place.
There is a whole industry and aesthetic around comfort. Think about the prime selling feature of many shoes. Comfort. Bras… Comfort. Could the bed industry even exist without this word? I think we as humans equate comfort with happiness and contentment. We fairly revel in it. Comfort food. Comfort class. Comfort animals. Slip into something more comfortable? It seems to imply home in our deep subconscious.
So why would we ever want to leave this state? Is the opposite of comfort discomfort? I’m not sure that it is. I think the opposite may just be growth. Creation rather than stagnancy. Stretching rather than burrowing. And I think that can be just as pleasurable in the end.
The very existence of comfort supports stepping out of it- you can’t step out of something you don't have. For me I think there is a bridge that helps me prepare for this. It is comfortable action. I make things because it pleases me and feels absolutely essential to my being. I share them with “safe” people. I cook. Feeding others is an active joy of mine. Walking and going to the beach are energizing for me. Working with and making things with clay is familiar and “comfortable” even though there is sometimes physical discomfort in doing so. It may make my back hurt or my fingers cold but the texture, smell, and possibilities of clay make the challenges seem small. Seeking quiet fills me with purposeful calm.
So not with monumental leaps but with tentative baby steps I will break the inertia of comfort. I figure that the confident leaps will come with familiarity (new comfort). I am challenging myself to make and manage a website, bring my artwork to a broader audience, to share my experiences, and to call myself, finally, an artist.
It may not seem big, but from my big cozy chair, it feels really big.