Susan's Blog

Friday, December 8, 2006

Cold Comfort

Comfort is something I greatly overlook — at least consciously. In the most superficial sense, I am not big on comfort. My shoes are almost never comfortable. I suffer for my fashion with pointy boots and high heels. I wear tight jeans and itchy earrings and makeup that sometimes has the opposite effect and makes my eyes puffy and my nose red. I shun down jackets because they make me look fat, so I bought my shearling last year which is deliciously warm but I can’t get it wet, a la Seinfeld (so I can’t wear it in a snowstorm, d’oh.)

But I read Cinthia’s blog this morning and it really resonated with me. She talks about the perfection found in warmth and in watching white snow cover the shapes outside. Her thinking here might not sound like a big revelation to all of you, but it is quite stark in its very simplicity to me. The elements of winter are truly unlike the other times of year. There is a big movement indoors, and if you consider this metaphorically, it is a move to the within.

Moving to within has become very important to me in the last few months. Sticking close to home is one way of thinking of it, although I do not necessarily mean that in the actual sense, because I travel a lot (for me). I mean staying grounded, staying balanced, and staying centered.

I have two kinds of happiness: one form is a wild, colorful, giddy happiness caused by something external. Another person who has made me laugh; attention from something like benign flirtation; a book contract; an invitation to a fabulous party; having just the right outfit on and looking exactly the way I want to look. It flares up, consumes me, and then dies down, sometimes leaving ashes behind.

The other form is quieter, harder to see, more muted. It is caused by a state of mind, some cue, some reminder about what is good. A living in the moment, being lost in what you’re doing and who you’re with. You are not even aware of it, except maybe later. I think of being at the dinner table and watching Ben relate a story. I am looking at his wildly uneven teeth: one tusk-like front tooth descending while the tiny chips of baby teeth flap outward loosely, ready to leave any minute. Hearing Max tell me that his locker is “right next to the special ed class” and that “it’s cool, because they’re just part of the scenery.” Ned coming home, smelling outdoorsy. Or the feeling of grinding away at a dance move and breaking out in the sweat of frustration, only to feel it dissipate as I hear the others laughing around me because they, too, are struggling. Or coming downstairs and sitting in the best seat in the house with my first coffee, with nothing else I have to do except blog. Still dark out, very cold, but I’m in lumpy sweats and a warm afghan. It’s a more boring form of happiness, more mundane, but if I tune into it, I see that it, too, is beautiful.

Cinthia’s post made me think of winter in a new way, which is really to remind me of something I’ve known all along: there is happiness to be found in sheer comfort and safety.


I realy enjoy reading when you use your powers of observation. Thank you.

— added by Anonymous on Friday, December 8, 2006 at 6:59 am

hey-what happened to your link to Peggy Lous blog? I never bothered to add it to my favorites…

— added by Anonymous on Friday, December 8, 2006 at 7:42 pm

Sorry! that link is
I’ll have to speak to my I.T. guy! 🙂

— added by Susan Senator on Friday, December 8, 2006 at 7:49 pm

For keeping warm in the winter, try layering with silk. You can wear a much thinner jacket over it and still be quite comfortable in the cold.

And if you’re wearing silk long johns over blue jeans, and get splashed with 40F water when it’s in the mid-50s, you won’t really get cold! 🙂

(It worked in NH, should work just fine in MA.)

— added by Julia on Wednesday, December 13, 2006 at 8:42 pm

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