The Air Conditioned Hypoallergenic Life

It is amazing how much time we spend striving for comfort. In fact, I would estimate that most Americans work for many extra years searching for the moving target of incrementally more comfort. Since we all recognize that luxury is just another weakness, it is important to understand that living the air conditioned hypoallergenic life is an effort in futility and we are better off getting outside and learning to embrace real life. I would also guess you could probably measure someone’s overall satisfaction with life by simply measuring how large a comfort zone they possess.

cleanAn air conditioned hypoallergenic life is one completely devoid of any discomfort. But more than that, it is classified as this unnecessary longing for perfection, excess and superfluity. It seems that Americans are particularly affected. The main complaint is that we simply spend too much time and energy concentrating on perfection while missing out on the messiness and beauty that is real life. So, get out of your extra large air conditioned SUV and hop on a bike and enjoy the fresh air of life. Take a little bit of time to try something new and instead of running from discomfort- embrace the expansion of your comfort zone.

Moving Target
If only we could arrive. If only comfort had an end, we wouldn’t spend our time out of breath running on the hedonic treadmill. The trouble with it is there is always someone you know that is just a little bit more comfortable. There is always some object that is slightly nicer than what you have. There is always one stitch of leather interior that feels even better. There is always a few more square feet of closet that would help fit all your excess junk. There is always just a little faster, cleaner, softer, prettier and bigger.

You can’t finish comfort. And it seems the more money we make- our definition of comfort keeps expanding. As soon as you start to stretch out in business class you see them serve fancier drinks in first class. As soon as you set your thermostat to 76 you think it would probably feel even better at 75. When you get your nice house all the sudden a new one is built with a few more square feet and slightly larger chandelier. By the time you finish the perfect cleaning of your house, dust is already starting to accumulate on the other end. Comfort is a moving target. When is air conditioning enough?

Go Outside
If there is one way to combat the air conditioned hypoallergenic life it would be to simply go outside. Ride a bike. Go Camping. Take a fish off the hook. Walk barefoot. Cook something over an open fire. The indoor, desk fed, computer driven lives that are increasingly popular are only reinforcing the notion of hypoallergenic comfort.

So, stop what you are doing and go outside. Take a walk around the block. Enjoy the beautiful air. Enjoy the dirty air. Feel the warm or cold breeze. Smell the smells, both good and bad. Enjoy the rain. Don’t complain. In my life, I find the more time I spend inside the more time I spend thinking about the details of incremental comfort. I find I spend my time thinking about how a slightly nicer chair would make my day better. If only my computer was a tad bit faster. If only the heat would make me warmer faster. If only I had two windows in my office. Go outside. Enjoy what it has to offer.

Rub a Little Dirt On it
In a society obsessed with clean, sometimes its nice to get a little messy and enjoy life. Sometimes its nice to eat from a food truck or grab a tasty treat from a street vender in an ethnic part of town. Sometimes it is nice to take your shoes off and let the sand melt between your toes. Sometimes it’s nice to drink something cold from a dive where the floors have a little tack to them.

When your standards are too high, you miss out on life. Have you watched a young child play in the rain? Have you seen kids play in the dirt without care? It seems we spend more and more time trying to avoid a drop of sweat, seeing a bug or getting the slightest bit dirty. What are you missing out on because your comfort zone has been shaved away by the luxuries you bask in daily?

Comfortable at All Times
Air condition can be pretty amazing. But, would your life be better if you didn’t need it to feel normal. What if you could enjoy a little dirt sometimes. What if you didn’t need perfection all the time. What if you could still enjoy life with a little discomfort. What if you could actually enjoy that slightly sketchy restaurant. What if you could get a great night sleep on an old crappy mattress. What if you could sleep well with lots of noise on a tightly packed discount airline plane.The story of the princess and the pea reminds us of the absurdities of our comfort zone. I’m sure you know someone who’s comfort zone is so tight that they are always unhappy unless life is absolutely perfect. Maybe that’s you. But maybe you need to expand your comfort zone. Maybe it’s time to step out of the air conditioned hypoallergenic life.

Go outside. Ride a bike. Walk barefoot and enjoy the messiness of life.

6 thoughts on “The Air Conditioned Hypoallergenic Life

    • That is a nice little parable. Somehow I’ve never actually seen that one before but I’d enjoyed the quick read.

  1. I love this post. I say this to people all of the time. It’s sad when people always have to buy/manufacture fun. They have to constantly control the experience. It’s a little sad. I’m going to make sure I stay outside once a day. Birds chirping and watch my oriental grass blow in the wind and play in my fall garden. It’s great entertainment for me.

    • That sounds pretty nice to me as well. I love spending time outside in all seasons and I too feel bad for people who stay inside all the time. Something about being out just makes me appreciate life.

  2. This made me think about something that happened last week. My wife and I had no plans (note that I don’t say “nothing to do” – there’s always something fun to do), so we went for a walk – we live in a city. Walked up about a mile and a half from our apartment, dodging people, dogs, bikes, and other things.

    On the way back we were waiting at a light, and an old man came up behind us. I reacted warily, as you do in a place where homeless folk are as likely to scream at you as they are to panhandle. He put both of us arms around us and said:

    “Wonderful day, isn’t it? Ready, on three. One, two three… OOOOOHHH YEEAAHHH!” His voice was a deep basso profundo, and we both cracked up.

    That kind of stuff doesn’t happen in an air conditioned box.

    • That is pretty funny. I’ve had similar experiences when walking though random towns in the US and while backpacking overseas. I’ve seem some truly unique things and met some incredible people by simply being outside interacting with everyone.