Comfort to Contentment ... A Journey

Life is a journey from the restless comforts of infancy to the subtle quiet contentment of old age. When grandpa was in his eighties, he had an apartment in a high-rise senior citizen community. His journey started in Europe and then by boat as an unaccompanied teen to America. He lied about his age in order to get a job in the coalmine. He and grandma raised five children while he worked in the steel mill.

As a teenager, we looked forward to visiting him. The visits were brief, but we were always thankful for the few minutes that he shared. A lot of our daily decisions centered around, “what would grandpa think?” He had his special souped-up bottle of whiskey that he used for the toast when we arrived. He didn’t like the taste of whiskey so he added sugar and sugar and sugar. It was almost syrup.

I often thought about grandpa and what he did when we weren’t there. We found that he liked to just sit, read the paper and visit with his friends in the building. He loved to hear how people were doing in their lives. He would listen to us report our activities and usually just smiled with approval. We were all so busy with life. High school, college, jobs, businesses, farms and the golf course all occupied everyone’s time. When he was our age, was he as busy as we were?

Mark Twain said, “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”

I think life might be a journey from comfort to contentment…quiet contentment. The newborn cries as he seeks comfort. He doesn’t know where it comes from nor what exactly it is, but he feels a certain comfort from the mother’s touch, the soothing confident voice and the warm caress.

From infancy to early childhood, the child begins to recognize and seek specific things that bring comfort. It might be the parent, sibling or even a pet… a special toy or even a favorite food.

Adolescence brings more demands for comfort and the beginning of responsibility for their own comfort. They realize that parents may not always be around and they must now start to look to the future. The quest is still for the comforts in life, but now we have the increasing recognition of responsibility for one’s own comforts. Survival is still a low priority.

Comfort is a very broad term. It represents the things in life that make us happy or help us survive. The pursuit of these comforts might not be quick, simple and as easy as they were when someone else had to provide them. They may involve a teacher, coach, mentor, spouse, children, and place significant demands on our time. It may require personal growth, tough decisions, heartache, and even failures.

We choose the comforts that we want in our life. We determine what when and how much. The important thing is that the pursuit of our comforts in life is just part of a journey. We all make the journey. Some journeys will be shorter than others. Some will have more obstacles, detours and roadblocks. But the journey will continue.

As we mature to middle age, we begin to enjoy the fruits of our labor. But questions arise. Has all the work to provide for comfort and survival been worthwhile? Do we have to make changes or start over again? Should we adjust the demands for comfort at the expense of survival?

We can’t change our past but we can influence our future. As we get older, we start to adjust our demand for comforts. Comforts should not be at the expense of survival. I’m not talking about jumping out of a perfectly normal airplane just to see how close you can come to the ground before you open your parachute. I am talking about taking an around the world cruise every year at the expense of losing your house or becoming a burden to your family or society.

I’m talking about having the comforts of life until you complete your journey. The comfort for grandpa was having the family come for a visit. The twinkle in his eye when he saw the anguish on our faces as we politely toasted his whiskey mix. The comfort for grandpa was to know that he gave his sons and daughters the passion to learn and become successful. He no longer had to pursue the comforts in his journey. He could simply enjoy them. Now it was quiet contentment. His was a journey from the pursuit of comforts to the comfort of quiet contentment. A twinkle. A wink. A smile.

Make it a great day

Dr L