Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Comfort of Familiar Things

Some people crave, and thrive on, variety. Their restless natures demand an ever-changing course of experiences--new people, new places, new jobs, new ideas, new excitement. They seem to be always on the move, always seeking something else. This personality type is needed in our world. From their ranks we gain explorers, inventors, and adventurers--people who see new ways of doing things and open up new vistas for their less restless brethren.

I am not this type of personality.

Variety, so the old saying goes, is the spice of life. For a person like me, that is a true saying. Spices are used in very small quantities to add flavor to foods. Variety, in small doses, adds interest and pleasure--spice--to my life. But I find much comfort in familiar things. Most of the time I would prefer to be at home with a good book, or family, or a TV show I'm interested in, than to go out looking for excitement. Crowd scenes exhaust me. Social events with too many people I don't know or don't know well create a type of nervous strain that fills me with dread. While a different personality type will look forward to and enjoy such an event, it feels like punishment to me.

Years ago my husband and I were talked into participating in a Marriage Encounter weekend. Most people who have been to one of these have nothing but praise and enthusiasm for the experience. I hated every minute of it and could hardly wait for it to be over so we could go home.

In other words, it was no place for an extreme introvert!

While I can weary of being in "the same old rut," there are some things about the "same old rut" that I really like! It became that "same old rut" simply because of my doing the same old things over and over. Because they are things I like. Certainly, I enjoy and need a little change from time to time. And I can guarantee that life will hand out change, whether I want it or not. In the many life changes through the years, some have been wonderful, interesting, educational, fulfilling, and of benefit to my growth as a human being. Other changes have been grievously difficult.

Whether life's changes have been happy ones or unhappy ones, part of the continuity of my life is found in familiar things. When we moved to a new house, new town, or new state, familiar paintings went up on the walls, helping the new place feel like home. All of our household equipment that moved with us from place to place immediately made the new place feel familiar. The comfort of the familiar helped make the adjustment to new circumstances easier. Even when we were excited about some of these changes and truly enjoying them, still the comfort of the familiar things we brought with us helped us enjoy the newness all the more.

There is a sort of emotional security among the familiar things, familiar routines.

What has set me thinking about the comfort of the familiar, is my recent choices in reading material. As a lifelong bookworm, I am always buying new books. Right now I probably have ten new books that I want to read and have not gotten to yet.

Why haven't I gotten to them?

Because I've been rereading old favorites. Some of these old favorites I have already read more than once. But there is something in me right now that is needing the comfort of familiar things. So I am revisiting worlds of the imagination that I have enjoyed before. It is like visiting friends that I am comfortable with and take pleasure in their company. Rereading a book gives pleasure in the experience, without wondering if things are going to turn out all right. The suspense is gone, the pleasure remains. It's comfortable.

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