There is a constant pull in our hearts between the old and familiar and the new and daring. It’s not that one is better, for to live life is to continually wage a battle between comfort and adventure. In fact, one could argue that either of these opposing principles is meaningless without the other – each forms the yin to the other’s yang. What’s interesting is the way these two forces continually play themselves out in our lives, from the smallest details up to the most significant of life changes.
When you see a horror movie, or an action adventure flick, you are consuming a kind of comfort food. There you are, safe in your movie seat or living room, watching at a safe distance while scary zombie monsters devour the flesh of people on the other side of the screen. Ironically, the scarier the scenario, the greater is the comfort derived from engaging in this transaction. When we enjoy such entertainments, we are reenacting the principle of the campfire, the primal warm place of refuge, where the tribe can gather in comfort, safe from the fearsome lion that roars in the forest beyond the trees.
On a different level, any daring adventure is an assertion of an inherent right to exist. To wander out into the unsafe world, to climb that mountain, sail across that sea, jump from that airplane, is to wage war against the arbitrariness of fate, to wrest control of the underlying existential debate. It is a way of saying “I continue to exist because it is right that I should exist!”
I am not saying that any of these emotions make a lick of sense on a rational level. We’re not talking rationality here. After all, what can you say that rationally justifies your continued existence? From the perspective of the Universe, why is your existence somehow preferable to your non-existence? But on the level of psychological survival, we each feel a deep need – from the time we are small children, barely old enough to walk – to test our safety, to affirm and demonstrate some principle of invulnerability.
This continual need to seek comfort and reassurance from danger and uncertainty is an inherent part of us, a desire deeply embedded in the human psyche. It is the very spice, the salt and pepper, which lends flavor to our time here on this Earth.