Ashwin and I just returned from an incredible 5-day adventure deep into the desert of northern Colombia. It was one of the most spectacular landscapes I've ever seen in one of the most remote places I've ever been, but there was this one thought that kept floating around in my mind: "Man, I'm f***ing uncomfortable." It was 95 degrees out, no shade, relentless flies *everywhere*, the roads were terrible, the boat ride (out to the northern-most point in South America) was horrific, my back was really bothering me, and, meanwhile, there are a couple hundred extremely impoverished indigenous Wayuu people actually *living* in these conditions. My senses were overloaded.
As Ashwin and I approach our one-year anniversary (tomorrow!) of traveling and living out of this beast we call "El Chapulín," I'm realizing just how f***ing uncomfortable we've been on this trip. From sleeping on the ground in a new place with no privacy almost every night to communicating daily with someone who doesn't speak your language, and sometimes doesn't even speak Spanish, I would say we are, in fact, uncomfortable 99% of the time.
Letting go of comfort was hard in the beginning. Parts of me just wanted to flee whenever the discomfort grew too strong. But now I'm learning the importance of that feeling - the importance of being totally knocked over and never actually finding your footing again - the importance of being pushed past the arbitrary limits you've set for yourself - the importance of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time - the importance of being completely stuck in a situation you worked so hard to try and avoid...and not being to talk your way out of it - the importance of not being able to go inside where it's comfortable and cool and lock yourself away from the world.
Comfort is the enemy of progress. So stay with the icky-ness for just a little longer, stay with the confusion and the fury and the sadness, stay with the pain. Don't flee.