In California we wear our plakkies year-round. Not because it's not cold outside (it is), but because our homes are heated. Our cars are heated. Our workplaces are heated. We are always at a comfortable temperature, except when walking from the house to the car, or from the car to the office.
Here in South Africa the homes are not heated. I wear my coat indoors for three months. I am perpetually cold. And that is perhaps why, when the first buds of spring begin to bloom, I am so incredibly grateful. When the discomfort of having constantly cold hands, feet and nose is over, I celebrate. Were it not for the discomfort of winter, I would not appreciate spring.
In America, discomfort is considered to be an enemy and we spend our lives avoiding it. Here in South Africa it is, to some extent, a slice of life. After the initial complaint I find ways to push through, persevere, be resourceful. When the discomfort ends I find myself appreciating the simplest things with so much gratitude. Sunshine is brighter. Flowers smell sweeter. Friends are more precious. The funny thing is, I never complained more than when I had all the comforts of life back in America.
Maybe discomfort isn't a bad thing after all. Maybe my culture got it wrong.