Leather office chairs make a peculiar sound when I shift my weight around to find the absolute most comfortable position. This one, in particular, is both extremely comfortable and extremely talkative when I try to shove my body deeper into its poofy too-comfortableness. The job that allows me to sit in this chair is also extremely comfortable. I make enough money doing easy enough work that I could probably continue doing it forever.
I am comfortable. Too comfortable. We’ve become a society of overcomfortable people. Dean Karnazes, the legendary ultra marathoner who ran 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days, sums this up perfectly:
“Somewhere along the line we seem to have confused comfort with happiness.”
Being comfortable is not the same as being happy. In fact, being too comfortable can be incredibly uncomfortable. That squeaky sound that leather chairs make drives me insane. Its the sound of being stagnant, of fighting only to get slightly lazier. Also, it’s high and grating and makes me want to burn the building down in a fit of white-boy anarchism.
A society of overcomfortable people is a society in decline, there is no getting around this. Any person or group of people who doesn’t continually challenge themselves to get better is stagnating.
Last winter I bought a 1967 Mustang for $5000. As one might expect (clearly, I am not “one”), it was like owning the Milennium Falcon- not the badass Milennium Falcon from the first and third movies but the one from “The Empire Strikes Back” which Han literally works on through the entire movie (ok, also the badass one from the first and third movies, it was a 1967 Mustang). I think Chewbacca actually has more screen time fixing the car than he does doing anything else in that movie.
Still showing less asscrack than your average mechanic.
I realized something funny working on that car all day. Most people I know don’t know how to change their own oil, don’t know the difference between a carburetor and a carboy, and would start looking for their AAA card rather than their tools if they got a flat tire. My generation in particular is so used to planned obsolescence of their things that its become a pandemic: we simply don’t know how the basic tools which we use to live our lives work, and we’d rather trash them than try to fix them.
Long story short, the Mustang became too much work (Long story slightly longer: I burned out the clutch trying to race it). But I feel changed by that experience:I no longer see any car I drive as simply something getting me from one place to another. It’s more than just transportation: it’s a beautiful machine that has hundreds of complex parts that wants a driver who understands and feels it to drive it properly. It’s a work of art, and by driving it or fixing it I get to take part in that art. Driving is no longer getting from point A to point B; it is an exciting, wonderful experience that blows my mind every time.
We’ve become so accustomed to living life as comfortably as possible, to skimming across the surface of our lives without understanding what’s underneath our feet. We’re so obsessed with being comfortable that we take the vast, complex machinery of the human race and nature around us completely for granted. Life is real cozy when you make it that way, but it’s so much more challenging and exciting when you choose to engage with it, fully, on every level that you can. According the internet we only use 10% of our brains. I think this is about as true as everything else on the internet.
But I think we choose to engage with a fraction of the world around us. We don’t know how our cars work, how the programs on our computers work, how to build a fire, let alone how to survive without the things we take for granted. There’s so much depth and excitement latent in the everyday, we just need the tools to interact with it. Learning a second language opens up realms of experience with new people- especially for me, living in Santa Fe, there’s so many people I could interact with and learn from if I could take the time to learn Spanish. And there’s so many beautiful sights out in the wilderness around the area that I’ve been stopped from seeing because I don’t have the tools or survival proficiencies for extended hikes.
It’s time to change that. The resources out there are more accessible than they’ve ever been. I’ve made a promise to myself: this year, I’m going to learn the skills I’ve been missing for my adult life, and better myself in the areas that I currently strive to cultivate. That’s why I’m taking on the “13 Skills in ’13” Challenge: except I wouldn’t call it a challenge, I’d call it an opportunity, a measurable way to track myself to do the things that I’ve always wanted to. It’s time to engage with life, to get out of the comfy leather chairs and get to some learnin’. Completing these tasks, these skills, will give me a sense of connection to my world and independence.
If you’re interested in kicking your life into gear with me, check out this page:
And connect with me! I’m listed under http://13skills.com/member/2996/dannyseymour2
Let’s get engaged, everyone.
Edit: The above comic is from http://www.threewordphrase.com. Support that guy, that would just be super good of you to do.