She was weary and teary-eyed. Her gray hair tied to a lose bun, her shoulders were drooped and her entire body screamed of fatigue and despair. She got up slowly from the chair in front of me and as she was leaving the room, I wondered how this could happen to her.
Rosa is a mother whose young adult son is suffering from a terrible illness….and she has no money to support her son’s healthcare. Neither does he have health insurance. It’s a terrible situation to be in. I feared for myself.
Even after she left, I couldn’t get her out of my mind. Her image kept creeping back into my head. I don’t want to suffer the same fate I said to myself. A question then suddenly popped into my head “How can someone stay in the same job for more than 20 years that pays very little and has no health care benefits?”
At 43 years old, he was given 6 months to live. He accepted his fate openly but he kept telling me to just relieve his pain because he has no money to support his treatment. Eventually, he succumbed peacefully with no family of his own, very few loved ones and no properties of any sort to bequeath.
Lester grew up in a well-to-do family. He was able to go to good schools through college and he lived a very comfortable life. After graduation, he landed a job at a manufacturing company where he stayed up to the time of his illness. Even while he was not earning a lot, he managed to live a comfortably because their family business somehow continued supporting him. Unfortunately, the recent financial crisis really hit their business hard and it slowly declined until eventually, they had to close shop with some unpaid debts. When he was diagnosed with illness, there was no more money left. He has also consumed his health insurance but needed further treatment.
One of the benefits of being a doctor is getting to meet all sorts of people who have eye opening life stories. My life has been led to a different path because of my insights from other people’s lives such as the people above.
Rosa and Lester are shining examples of those who have been lured into the comfort trap.
All of us tend to seek out the familiar, the known and the comfortable. Most of us, given the choice, will opt for what is safe failing to take the risk even when we know that we are stuck and unable to move forward. Being comfortable is a trap…..it nestles you in warmth, in the routine but it robs you of the fire in your soul. It slowly and unbeknownst to you, eats you up until a big jolt hits you. Hopefully that jolt is not yet too late.
As I write this article, one by one it dawned on me how profoundly the comfort trap has imprisoned me. It occurred to me that all the excuses and rationalizations I’ve made are the ways that I keep myself snuggled in my comfort zone. Are you also trapped? I invite you to take a look too.