Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Thoughts on Discomfort

I keep wondering why I relish spring so much here in South Africa, for I have never felt more appreciative of spring than I do now.  I enjoyed the four seasons back in California but didn't rave about them.  In fact, winters in California are colder and longer, and yet I didn't seem to care when winter ended and spring began.  This morning, when I put on my plakkies (flip flops), I suddenly figured it out. 

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.

No comments: