Thursday, September 1

Thursday thanks

All through the month of August, I kept getting reminders to be thankful for discomfort.

I know that sounds crazy, but keep reading and I promise I'll explain. (I swear it's not the August heat or the yoga-challenge talking. Well... mostly not.)

To be clear, I don't mean being thankful for chronic pain. What I mean is being thankful for being shoved forcefully out of my comfort zone. Comfort is a deceptive mistress. She makes it difficult to want to try new things, because the status quo is so easy. It might be boring, but it's... comfortable.

Hence: I am thankful for discomfort.

Cases in point:
I just finished reading the book I'm not an Alcoholic, I'm just European!: Living in Spain, Adventuring Through Europe. The book is a witty non-fiction tale from a man, Jamie Wakefield, who wakes up to his comfortable (if a bit predictable) life in Vermont, day after day, wondering "Is this all there is?" And, through a series of events, Wakefield quits his job and moves to Madrid. He bumbles through language barriers and has successes and failures navigating a new culture. In the final analysis, Wakefield realizes that while he thought his life was "complete" before the big shakeup, what he really had was comfortable inertia.
Lesson: Comfort is not the same thing as happiness.

Quite by accident, I read the last pages of Wakefield's book on the anniversary of my own cross-country move.
Lesson: Despite panic attacks at the time, I'd do it all over again tomorrow. If I hadn't been dragged asked to move across the country, I would still be in the same ruts I was in last year, and the year before that... and the year before that... Instead I started a blog, picked up a teaching job (which I've always wanted to do), and toured a corner of the world I would never have chosen to see otherwise.

Summertime running on the Gulf Coast is decidedly less comfortable than my prior 10 years of summertime running in San Diego.
Lesson: I am not as much of a weather wimp as I thought I was. I also sweat enough for six runners... Gross, yes. But this has also become a point of personal pride.

During one yoga class I spent 60 minutes imitating a pretzel, being challenged by Dave Farmar to step outside of my comfort zone. In pushing the boundaries, I succeeded in a pose that I formerly thought I "couldn't do."
Lesson: Our bodies can do so much more than we give them credit for... As runners, it is all too easy to think "I can't run faster" or "I can't run that distance." But I recently heard a radio commentator say: "Can't really means won't or don't want to." So... which one is it? Because it's not "can't."

And just as I started to piece together the ideas for this Thursday Thanks, one of my favorite bloggers provided me with the perfect capstone. Sarah over at Yes and Yes published a guest post on "Beating the 'Is this it?' Blues."
Lesson: I'll let this one speak for itself.

Just think of all of the things we couldn't achieve without some discomfort: marathons, childbirth, college graduation, inoculation against infection, career change, mountain climbing, world travel...

What else would you add to that list?
What discomforts have you faced to get where you are today?


  1. Most of my long runs are uncomfortable but I just push on through because I know that's the only way I will reach my marathon goals. Pain is temporary!

  2. "Pain is temporary." I like that! There's a quote I turn to when things start sucking: "Life is short, but it is wide. And this too shall pass." (but yours is easier to remember) ;)


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