Such an odd word; one of those words that sounds even more ridiculous when repeated. One of those words you think you know the meaning of until some annoyingly smug person asks for your definition. Then you blunder and come up with a brilliant response like,"um, uh, potatoes?"
Comfort is a terribly vague and individualized concept yet a very simple one. We usually associate comfort with passivity; a comfortable bed, a comforting bath, comfort food. The meaning is anything but passive however. Comfort is an active, immediate, sometimes revolutionary gift. Comfort is supportive, soothing, easing, calming, and transforming. Makes it seem comfort can only be applied as a salve to wound; a spiritual, emotional, or physical poultice of sorts.
I'm not so sure comfort is always born of pain. I had a comforting moment earlier today in the library. I was browsing, lost in my thoughts, when I picked up a book because I liked the cover and was struck with an idea for a story, one sentence plucked from the ether and suddenly I was present in a way I haven't been in a month or more. The sentence tumbled around in my brain in the voice of the character, a woman of indeterminate age, her soft drawl classic Savannah, Ga steeped in mid tones of menthol cool and bourbon warmth, and her hair the color of an autumnal sugar maple leaf glowing in late afternoon sunlight. I listened to her speaking to me, trying to remember exactly what she was saying,"...everyone dreams of having a personal story to tell. Most people live their lives in search of a preamble so enviable it makes one drunk on self importance faster than the bottom glass of prom punch. Unfortunately we all come to realize the most incredible stories of our lives are also the ones we are ashamed to tell."
And so, how comforting to be struck by inspiration again, when all else is whirlwind and flux, the gift of comfort can come from within, not to heal a wound, but to reassure my imagination will never fail me no matter the circumstances I find myself facing.
I've realized, in the looking back, if tears come to my eyes, it is not necessarily for having failed or feeling regret; this comforting tide of emotion is for having dared accomplish something so profound the very grain of my life was changed. I triumphed in some invisible manner; cutting my inner self on the bias so that life will fit me more beautifully than before.
There was a new voice which you slowly recognized as your own, that kept you company as you strode deeper and deeper into the world, determined to do the only thing you could do- determined to save the only life you could save. Mary Oliver