March 15, 2006
The Attraction of Discomfort
Wiggling a sore tooth. Reading a horror novel. Watching a suspenseful movie. Pausing to watch disaster information on the news. Playing a scary video game with the lights off. We torment ourselves every day with uncomfortable actions. Things that make us shudder and squirm. Things that make us turn away then peek between fingers at scenes of horror and pain. We daydream of ourselves in such unenviable positions and what we think we would do if we had the chance.
I've been thinking about this on and off for a few weeks now, wondering why we are attracted to uncomfortable things. Why do we keep wiggling a sore tooth or picking at a scab even though it hurts. Why do we go back to horror authors again and again? I guess I started questioning this while reading Stephen King's newest novel, Cell. More than once, I would read, shudder, wince, and declare, "That is so fucked up!" Then, I would dive back into the book.
I've mentioned both physical and mental discomfort. Usually, I would separate them when examining why. However, for me at least, the reason is the same whether is a small physical pain or a mental one: I want the contrast of sensation in both senses.
I think this is why most people do it: the contrast of pain and not pain in a controlled fashion. It is stimulating. It wakes us up and shakes us out of our warm cocoons of safe, familiar security. Constant security is dull. I crave new and different stimulus on a regular basis. If that means I watch a really scary movie that makes me paranoid for a couple of days, so be it. It makes me feel alive. It breaks me out of the wake up - work - write - sleep - rinse - lather - repeat routine I sometimes get myself into. I don't like feeling like I'm drifting through life.
So, I try to live it vicariously through as many different mediums I can. I think this is what most people do. It suddenly makes me understand the popularity of "stupid comedy" and that is something I never expected to understand. Stupid comedy puts people in extremely uncomfortable social situations where they often do the worst thing possible. I'm too logical and careful for most of the situational comedies I dislike but now I get it.
*twitch* Who would have thought me pondering why we like to put ourselves in uncomfortable places physically and mentally would suddenly make me understand a huge portion of popular culture that I've never understood. Neat!
Most days, around lunchtime, I take a two mile walk from EED to Houghton Park. It's a good walk with some hills and lots to see. I've thought about my top sights that I see on my walk.
The Retired Mafia Don - I have no idea if this guy is a retired mafia don or not but he sure looks like it. He has European features, thick white hair, always wears sunglasses and is almost always on the phone when I see him walking. I have decided he is retired and has a Trophy Wife/Girlfriend whom is definitely younger and pretty. I just started seeing the Trophy SO recently but I see him walking all the time.
The Grey Cottage - There is a marvelous grey cottage with a gabled roof on Lake Washington Blvd that I would love to own. It has a big yard, a lovely view and large picture windows. It is very open and pretty.
The Cow 54 Car - There is an old guy who has painted his PT Cruiser to look like a cow, complete with an udder license plate holder. The license plate is COW 54. It makes me grin every time I see it. Plus, he waves at me when I smile.
The Damn Big Yacht - I work in the Yarrow Bay area of Kirkland. Ritzy, expensive with lots of toys including yacht clubs. On my walk, I go by several docks. One of them has a damn big yacht. I have no concept of how expensive this thing is. It looks like it has three levels to it. I've seen it shift spots, so I know someone is enjoying it.
The Iron Boy in the Jacket at Houghton Park - At Houghton Park, there is a metal sculpture called "The Laughter of Children." It is two sitting girls and one standing boy. It's a generic happy sculpture. However, someone has put a fleece coat on the standing boy in his size. There is something about this that really makes me smile.
The Pier at Houghton Park - Houghton Park is a touch over one from my work. It is my turn around point. However, it also has a lovely pier out to Lake Washington. I adore the lake and this pier. Often, I will walk out onto the pier and stand there for a couple of minutes enjoying the lake, the birds and the clouds.
The Occasional Bald Eagle - Kirkland has an abundance of wildlife. It's one of the reasons I like it. Occasionally, I get to see a bald eagle fly by. This is very cool for me. I usually almost end up walking into something while I'm watching this beautiful bird. Other birds I get to see include ducks, herons and red tail hawks.
Some other time, I'll to talk about the random and weird stories I make up as I walk.
Tarot Card for the Day: Page of Pentacles