Comfort

I just got off the phone with a dear friend whom is currently living in a camper in a church parking lot in Colorado. The beautiful thing is that we laughed about it. There was no remorse there. No empathy. No sorrow.

"You live in a camper and I live at my parents house in the suburbs. We're both unemployed. And we're going to change the world."

We are going to change the world, you know. We already have. She did so in Thailand. In Bolivar, Missouri. In Colorado. I did so in Korea. In Africa. In Mount Vernon, Missouri.

Changing the world doesn't mean becoming the next Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerhoweveryouspellhisname or Mother Theresa. The world is made of inviduals, you see. So when we change one life, when we reach out to one single person, we are changing a part of the whole.  A part of the whole world.

We are changing the world.

But change can't  happen when we remain comfortable. That is what we decided tonight. That is what I decided in Africa. And in Korea. And have yet to figure out how to live out here in constantly comfort-seeking America.

Comfortable is just a nice synonym for complacent.

And I strongly dislike complacent. I despise it, in fact.

When we become fully comfortable we become fully complacent. We look around us and say, "This is good" but we don't mean just that moment--we mean forever. We mean that this is where we want to be and how we want to feel and what we want to do forever. We mean that we have come to a place in life where we feel good. Where alll things seem certain. We mean that we have fulfilled our life plan or dream or goal and now we can stop and rest easy. Now the hard part is over. Now we can just be.

I hope I never remain comfortable. If I do I will be entirely disappointed in myself.

I wasn't comfortable at the Children's Home as a live-in staff on the nights I went into my room and fell to my knees sobbing after hearing my residents' stories of incest and rape. I wasn't comfortable in New Orleans in the humidity and heat and constant cloud of bloodsucking mosquitoes. I wasn't comfortable in Uganda when I saw the muddy, disease-infested pit the kids' called 'water.' I wasn't comfortable in Moore, Oklahoma when I watched an 82 year old man pick through a pile of rubble that was once his home.

 The uncomfortable parts of life forced me to act. They forced me to feel, to change, to advocate. They forced me to live. 

I was comfortable in Korea. Not at first, but eventually. And traveling southeast Asia, for the most part, was comfortable. It was vacation. It was seeing the world. It was being a tourist. It was living my hard-earned reward after teaching a year abroad. But I was not living then. Not really.

I was going through the motions of a world-traveler all the while thinking, "This is it? This is good. This is a dream. This can't be hapenning. This is real. This is heaven. But. . .this is it?"

Do you know the most beautiful thing I saw in all my travels?

It was the faces of the slum children in Farridahbad, India.

I spent less than an hour with those children and it was enough to wreck my world. I had got it all wrong. The Taj was no comparison to their faces. To their touch. Nor was the Ganges. The Himalayas.
I was uncomfortable there, in their arms. In the slums.

And I felt alive.