Grateful people are handsome and lucky, but ungrateful people walk around feeling soggy like rotten peaches. Grateful people know they won the lottery when they got accidentally born into the weird and wonderful movie of life. But ungrateful people can’t see past their noses, they are the punching bags of the mean-spirited universe.
Really what I want to do is float through life in a never-ending, lazy river of gratitude. The problem is that gratitude is slippery.
After walking 100 miles and sleeping in a tent for four nights, you can be damn sure that I’m grateful for a roof and my king size bed. That first night home, my gratitude is a roaring fire. But how many nights can I spend in my big comfy bed before my gratitude wick burns down to a stub? 30 days? A year?
COMFORT = BEING ASLEEP. I heard this equation from one of my favorite podcasters. Now the idea is lodged between my ears, like when a little kid pushes his head through the space between two porch railings and then, when he tries to back out of it…
All the things we associate with comfort also lead to sleep: shelter, warm food, sofas and beds. The opposite end of the spectrum is awakeness, chattering your teeth in the cold of the night.
When I travel I suddenly want to smoke cigarettes. I want to buy them and keep them in my chest pocket and walk around smoking them. Because the act of traveling shakes me by the shoulders and slaps me into a new state of awareness. Suddenly I’m grateful for a tiny cup of espresso, a clean shirt, and an internet connection. A conversation with a stranger who could’ve easily been an ass but was kind instead.
Meanwhile, consumer culture is busy selling me comfort through the motivating principle of fear:
“What if you ram your Ford Taurus into a pine tree? Don’t you want the highest level of health/auto/life insurance? And don’t you need an iron gate surrounding your house while you’re at it? What if you drop your phone into an angry pit of scorpions, shouldn’t you have this adamantium plus also waterproof phone case, you know, just in case?”
I’m hesitant to buy because I have a hunch that comfort is the sneaky assassin of gratitude. I’m sorry but I’m just not afraid of lightning strikes or impromptu kidnappings or credit card theft.
And while I’m busy watching all of the news reports that tell me, “don’t travel out into that dangerous world,” comfort the silent killer is creeping up behind me with a pillow in his hands.