Being Breath

stories from the wilderness of everyday life

Begin Here

 

Let the discomfort begin with me.

These words were taken from a moving blog post by Courtney Martin. (You can read the full post at OnBeing.)

Her entire post, discussing aging, dying, and the people and systems dedicated to assisting with those transitions, is quite powerful.

But it was her title that captured me.

Let the discomfort begin with me.

Her words so resonated with me that I created the painting you see below in order to remind me of their power.

 

There are so many moments in life in which I face discomfort.

Perhaps it is when I see the person sitting on the street corner with a sign asking for assistance, and I notice the dozens of people walking quickly by. I am often one of those people. But there is something within me that pulls at me, that wants to do something. I want to engage with the person who is asking for engagement. Whether it is through a dollar, a sandwich, or pausing for a brief conversation, I want to acknowledge the human being in front of me. It is uncomfortable to face this suffering. But because I know the suffering does not go away if ignored, and because I want to do something to help alleviate it, I want to let the discomfort begin with me.

Or perhaps it is when my husband and I, married now for almost 15 years, find ourselves in another disgreement. As disgreements tend to do, it often leads to raised voices and flared tempers. We both know that these arguments have little benefit. And yet, caught in the storm of anger, we push on. It is far more comfortable, oddly enough, to be in anger. Knowing that it is not the direction I want to go, I want to be the one to step back, to offer space, to admit fault if fault is mine to admit, to offer a hug instead of a harsh word. In order to let love grow, I want the let the discomfort begin with me.

The discomforts arise when I am alone, too. It could be over feelings about my body, sensing its weight against the couch or the rolls of flesh I wish weren't there. It could be discomforts over an email conversation, causing overwhelming thoughts that kidnap my day. I often retreat to mindlessly perusing Facebook or grabbing a snack. 

It is more comfortable to give in, to give up, to eat, to slouch, to yell, to accuse, to scroll, to zone out, to sleep. But those choices do not lead to the life that I want to live. 

So in those moments, in these moments, it may require that I choose a walk instead of the bag of chips. It may mean that I sit with the feelings gnawing at my stomach and breathe, breathe, breathe... until I can respond with kind honesty to the email.

It may mean choosing discomfort over comfort so that I may live the life of my choosing.

I want this for all of us - that we may live not in comfortable sleep-walking, but live in such a way that, even if occasionally uncomfortable, we are truly awake for the precious moments of our lives.

May I continue to find ways to take responsibility for this. May I live in ease with the flow and with the challenges. May I continue to be both fully present with comfort and discomfort. May you have the same.

But let it begin with me.