The Comfort of Strangeness

… in which I attempt to better clarify the reasoning behind this blog, in order to better define its parameters and therefore actually get to a stage where I feel comfortable (!) posting on a regular basis. As an Australian friend of mine might say, herein I’m ‘laying the gary’…

See, up til now, I’ve not really posted here. The very real possibility of being able to post anything has, of course, lead me to post nothing. Which is why we need rules. Or at the very least, a Manifesto.

Only I don’t really like that word – the very last thing I want to suggest is that THE COMFORT OF STRANGENESS has any sort of political intentions, or indeed political relevance. It most certainly doesn’t. But I do feel the need to define where I’m trying to go with all this…

Leaving aside any particulars of my biography, I’ve reached a stage where I’m somewhat confused and nderwhelmed by certain elements of my current position in life. This is, perhaps, to be expected – after all, who hasn’t felt this way at some point? And, as you may come to understand, I am almost pathologically negative when it comes to weighing up any scenario, so it is only right and fair that, when looking at my life as a whole, I recognise a large degree of bumness.

Lets say, seeing as we’re trying to define things here, that I’ve got a decent, reasonably well-paid job, which lets me afford to live in a nice flat in a good part of town. In addition, let’s say that I’ve got a solid(if small) group of good friends, and a healthy relationship with a lovely, beautiful girlfriend who loves me very much. On paper, everything looks rosy.

And it is. Very much so. I can afford to do most things that I want to do; I eat well, enjoy frequent holidays and keep up a CD and book buying habit that I should really be ashamed of.

To get to the point, things are okay. Better than okay. But yet, I still want for something more.

Having over-thought this somewhat self-indulgent dilemma, I’ve acquired a few philosophical nuggets and concepts which I hope I can patch together in to some recognisable over-arching philosophy, or at the very least, a way by which I can attempt to make sense of this restlessness.

And it all centres on this – what if all those things that we do to try and make our lives more easy, more comfortable, are actually somehow holding us back? What if comfort is really not such a great thing after all?

We work jobs, we put in time, we spend our lives working for pay day in order to afford to do the things that we know we enjoy, and that make us feel comfortable. We furnish our homes, we sit in and watch our favourite shows, we go on holiday to places, and we make all these decisions based on parameters set down by what we know we like.

Of course we do. It would be perverse to do the opposite, and only indulge in activities that we actively hate.

That’s not right. But what I think I’m trying to say is that we get the most reward, and perhaps the most pleasure, from doing those things that we don’t know if we’re going to like or not. From the strange. The trip abroad to somewhere you’ve never been before, and perhaps have great apprehension about, only to discover that its an exciting, friendly and welcoming place. That cafe down a side-street that’s not Starbucks and which only serves two types of coffee (black and white), but which is somehow more alive than any corporate coffee-house can be. That CD by a band you’ve never heard of before who seem a little old-hat and crusty, but which somehow totally reels you in…

Its this constant ongoing battle between the comfortable and the strange things in life that provide us with so many anxieties. And yet, without wanting to get ahead of myself or sound too grand, I think its in an understanding of the relationship between these two contrasting factors that we might find a more reliable source of true happiness than by just simply relying on the things we think we want.

These aren’t original thoughts by any means – which is a good thing when it comes to posting to this blog. Out on the web, I’ve come across loads of sites with a similar outlook to this one, and loads more with an entirely conflicting standpoint. I hope to use this blog as a forum to air these ideas and to pull together a lot of these opinionsto try and make something resembling a coherent argument.

It will probably add up to a lot of pretentious nonsense for which I apologise in advance.

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