Hardening against the uncomfortable

by Jill Sockman

This morning I suited up to take Padma for a walk just as I have for the past week or so: sevevteen layers, complete with ski socks and a hat. By the time I got back to the house, I was sweating (profusely) and cursing my inability to gauge the outdoor temperature with more — or any — skill. It made me realize just how much I’ve been bracing against the cold.

I grew up on the north shore of Ohio. (I know, you didn’t realize Ohio had a shore, right?) For all of the things you might or might not know about that part of the country, perhaps you’ve heard of something called Lake Effect Snow. What is that? Well, basically it boils down to what happens when you live to the south of a giant body of fresh water with Canada to the north: in the winter months (there are about six of them) you get DUMPED on. Driving along the country roads with 8-10′ snowdrifts on either side of the road was normal. Bottom line: Cold. As. *$(*^#. So I should be immune to our coldest 20-30 degree days, right?

Apparently not. Even with the many layers, I curl in, harden, truly brace myself as if cold is somehow detrimental to my very being. As though it is trying to get in and steal my soul. (It might be, it really might be.) Today’s weather made me realize just how much I have been futilely guarding myself, and how that hardening against what is uncomfortable is a habit not solely confined to the cold.

What would it feel like to soften, accept, allow the discomfort in our lives, in the many forms it comes — from the bitter cold outside to the dis-ease of change on the inside? Perhaps on this mild day, it’s a good opportunity to try and see. Shall we?