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The comfortable truth.

How uncomfortable moments unlock our lives.


I can see the life I want, out there, beyond the rows of barbed wire fence. I stand where I am, keeping myself busy, convinced that one day that life will be mine.

Weeks turn into years. I keep dreaming about the life I want, but still I don’t go near the barbed wire, convinced I can achieve my goal by some other means. Days are spent engaged in pursuits that I will eventually learn served no real purpose other than to avoid the truth. Life is exhausting and relentless. Days start with coffee and finish with wine.


I’m 40, and still it goes on. I look at the barbed wire more now. On occasion I have even grabbed it; but there is so much of it, I lost heart. At least it is comfortable here, and hey maybe I am on the right track, maybe I just need to try harder.


I’m 45, and tired now. It is not that I feel like I’m dying, more that I’m less alive. Something inside me is still demanding that I go on. But I can’t keep going on, not like this. I walk toward the barbed wire and start pulling at the fence. It is uncomfortable. But I can’t go back this time, back to the struggle stealing my life.


I get through the first row and grab the next. It is still uncomfortable, for a few moments, but then something strange happens: I start to feel stronger, I start to feel alive. I grab the next row. I relish the discomfort now, knowing what lies on the other side. I keep going, and as I look up beyond the barbed wire, a funny thing: the life I thought I wanted is disappearing from view, but I don’t care.

I look for the next piece of barbed wire and grab it, happy now, alive. This is life.

We can spend a lifetime hemmed in by feelings of discomfort as we gaze over the top of them to a glorious future; feelings that stop us from being with ourselves, with our life, and by extension with other people. And that’s what discomfort is: an unwillingness to be with ourselves. When this feeling arises, instead of allowing it we do something to make the feeling go away, either by removing ourselves from a situation, or perhaps eating or drinking or taking something, and hurting our innocent bodies.


There was an Indian spiritual teacher called Jiddhu Krishnamurti who based himself in Ojai California in the 1920s. He was very active, writing books and giving lectures and had a large following. One day he announced he was (finally) going to reveal his secret. There was a great deal of excitement as people gathered and waited. Jiddhu Krishnamurti said, ‘I don’t mind what happens’.

So perhaps, instead of wanting our life to look a certain way, what if we choose to be happy with the way it looks and don’t mind what happens; what if we simply experience our life instead of trying to change it.

Sounds pretty comfortable to me.

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