The (Dis) Comfort Zone

I have a special pillow.

I used to throw my neck out of whack while traveling or washing my hair or turning over too fast in my sleep.  (Apparently I’m a very aggressive hair washer.)  But then I got the special pillow.  I’m so convinced I have to have it that I will take a bigger checked bag on a trip just so I can take it with me.  I’m sure I can’t sleep well without it.  I admittedly panic a little when I choose to leave it at home.  Because … what if?!?!

We all have our habits and superstitions, and I’ve been thinking about mine.  Like how I carry a book with me at all times, even to the bathtub where, honestly, I never even read; that I’m paranoid about the germs in hotel bathrooms; how I will drive all the way back home if I’ve left my cell phone; how I need coffee before I can “function” in the morning; that I’m convinced I’m afraid of heights and a little claustrophobic; how I have to have a bottle of water with me at all times, so much so that the instant I realize I’ve forgotten my water I’m dying of thirst.


In addition to my Central Europe Hiking trip being incredible in about a thousand ways, I also feel like I detoxed my thought process.

I left my special pillow at home and slept fine, even though we changed hotels 7 times in 3 countries over 14 days.  By the time I got to the last hotel room, I was so done with packing/unpacking that I’d taken to just dumping all of my toiletries in a pile on the bathroom floor.  I never read a single book, not one, not even before bed.  Instead, I listened to music or an audio book, looked at maps of Slovakia, or watched a movie.  This may be the longest I’ve ever gone without reading.  Sometimes I had water with me; sometimes I didn’t.  Coffee didn’t always come early enough, and shockingly I still “functioned”; I used my cell phone to take pictures and to send a few text messages.  I didn’t have an international voice plan, and so did not talk to a single person back home, not even my husband or my children, for 2 entire weeks.  I walked along the edges of tall cliffs and drop-offs (only one of which was scary) and rode in funiculars and glass elevators and small crowded boxes that hung from cables, and on ski lifts.  And even though I can still do without driving on curvy mountain roads, I realize this is probably just a very specific fear and does not mean I’m afraid of ALL heights.

How much of this is real, and how much have I manufactured?

And who am I without all of my very specific fears and requirements and definitions of what makes me, me?  

I’m back home and wondering when and how and why I ever decided all of these things about myself.  And yet, I’m already thrilled to sleep on my special pillow.  I even said “Ahhhhhh” out loud when I went to bed last night. 


What are your phobias or special comforts?  And do you think you are still “you” without them?



5 thoughts on “The (Dis) Comfort Zone

  1. amyg

    awww, man, this: “I also feel like I detoxed my thought process”

    this, this, this

    i love it – i love how this hike resulted in those words (and action). welcome home. congrats. i am so proud to know you, my fearless, adventure-seeking friend. i want to hike with you one day soon.

    my special comforts are my book buying, my online shopping, my walks (which work both ways – as a mini thought-detoxer, but also as a crutch that i feel incomplete if i do not make my standard miles per day).

    how i see my history
    how i see my place in my family

  2. Lyra

    Your adventure inspires. I hope you carry that new perspective with you, the one that allows you to dump your toiletries on the floor and grab whatever pillow is around. I feel such a wonderful sense of surrender from you and it’s lovely.

  3. Averil Dean

    I’m exactly like you when it comes to books. I have to have one within arm’s reach at all times, yet it’s often just for comfort. I want it to be there, in case of a reading emergency.

    I think it’s wonderful that you’ve surprised yourself in so many ways on your journey. Now your pillow can simply be great instead of necessary and offer comfort without becoming a burden. Maybe I’ll get to that happy place with my books, though I do wonder who I’d be without loving them to the point of obsession.

  4. Joe Ponepinto

    I’m with you and Averil on this one—gotta have a book or journal nearby no matter what I’m doing, even if I only read a paragraph. Everything else, I’ll adapt.

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