One of the reasons I’ve come to love hiking and paddling so much is that discomfort can illuminate things you would never otherwise notice. For example, when I spend a lot of time in air conditioning, I take it for granted, and sometimes even find it annoying. But when I’ve been slogging for miles in a grubby heat, the discomfort awakens me to the most subtle of gifts: a patch of pines on a ridge through which the gentle breath of breeze cools the air; a freshet flowing from a crack in the mountain; or, at the end of a trip, the abrupt sting of air-conditioned civilization.
The same thing happens for me on a whole-life scale. When I’ve been doing the Corpus Callosum Shuffle, as I have for many days now, the days I take to live in my creative brain feel like stepping into that cool pine grove. I notice everything: the lush green outside my kitchen window where I’m writing; the nest of birds in my sun porch roof whose newly hatched occupants herald their parents’ every visit with a tremendous, squeaky chorus of hungry peeping; the sound of the soft rain; the peace of a quiet house. In this way, my life feels like the tide – its ebb and flow is durable and predictable. It’s just up to me to notice both.