Take Comfort

My husband often makes fun of me.

He doesn’t do it to be mean. I’m sure it’s because he cares.  One of the main things he teases me about: watching movies I’ve already watched a thousand times.  They cross all genres from Excalibur to Sixteen Candles to A Star Is Born (any version).

He can’t figure out why I don’t just watch some TV or at least a new movie—something current.  The answer, for me, is simple.

There is safety and comfort in the known.

Yes, I know all of the sayings.

“Comfort zones are comfortable because they’re familiar, not because they’re healthy.”

“Step forward into growth or step backward into safety.”

I get it.  But I decline.  I disagree.  It doesn’t apply all of the time.

Comfort matters.  It keeps us going.  There’s any number of ways we can find comfort in things we already know. I’m not convinced that that’s always something to regret or feel guilty about.

Think about religion.  Why do people go to church every week?  For their faith, yes.  Maybe because they like to listen to their priest or pastor.  These are true, but don’t many people go because it’s tradition?  Emile Durkheim, a famous sociologist, studied suicide and the major Judeo-Christian faiths back in 1897.  And he found that those faiths with the most ritual, the most repeated and known responses and holidays had followers had lower suicide rates.  I can’t think that this was just because of expectations, rather that there’s something to taking part in rituals and experiences you know and come to take comfort in.

Or take my life, for instance.  I’m all over the place.  I work two jobs. I’m running for an elected position in my job’s union. I write (for myself, for blogs, for a showcase coming up that I’m to be featured in), run a local writer’s group, and attend another one nearby.  I try to get roles in plays.  Sometimes I spend time with my husband and friends doing RPGs or board gaming. I even get to see my cats once in a while.  I have a lot to do.  And when downtime at home hits, my GenX side comes out—I need background noise, even if I’m doing something else.  Why wouldn’t I pick a movie I love that I know all of the lines to?

It gives me something that I can connect to without having to put more mental effort into it.  I know those lines.  I love those characters.  I can work on grading essays or concocting writing prompts while I watch Samantha Baker pine over Jake Ryan in the breaks here and there.

It gives me familiarity in a world that increasingly becomes more and more unfamiliar, whether it be because of world events or just because I’m simply getting older and haven’t had to process this terrain and these problems before.

So I say, find something that gives you comfort—maybe not food (though I have that problem, too)—but something else that you can come back to when you need to regroup.  I think that’s a way to find something healthy in the comfortable and known.

I’ll be getting back to my King Arthur legends and Judy Garland now.

Marcie Herman Riebe

Marcie is a bilingual caseworker by day, a university adjunct by night, and an aspiring writer at times in between. An import to NEPA, she has been active in the arts for many years from theatre to forensics to music. Her interest in the arts continues as founder of Ink, an area writer's group, a founding member of Voce Angeli (NEPA's only all-female chamber choir), and as a columnist for Thirty-Third Wheel. She loves all things Pittsburgh, particularly the University of Pittsburgh where she earned her Master of Arts in Linguistics. She lives in Scranton with her handsome husband, Pete, and their horde of cats: Napoleon, King Ajax, Sam, and Dean.

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