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Being Too Comfortable Can Be a Bad Thing

A column by Simon Moya-Smith about the pros and cons of comfort.

Comfort is a curious thing. In the right amounts it's like a miracle drug. Or maybe it's more specific like a panacea or nepenthe for the lovesick hopeless romantic who can't seem to get over the woman he lost. "God, I just want to forget her!" he begs on his knee in his gloomy room. Yes, a spansule of comfort would cure the poor soul—and, in the end, that's all he really wants—comfort, not the girl, but it'll take him time and God-awful angst to figure that out. It always does. Hechetu welo.

And here we go again. I just went on some curious tangent about love, heartache and coping with stomach-hollowing sorrow. And maybe we'll talk more about that in time, but today we're discussing comfort, fear and blundering directors of art museums.

Yes, comfort is good; it's calming, but it's also dangerous and delicate. It must always be respected and handled with care like fire or battery acid or two-decade old dynamite. Once you lose respect for comfort it'll turn on you, beat you into sludge and render you irreversibly indolent.

In many ways comfort is a lot like fire. It'll warm and sustain you, but in large, uncontrolled amounts, it'll also scar and disfigure you. Everything in moderation, right? You bet, and especially when reveling in rivers of comfort.

And since we're discussing moderation here, it would behoove of you not to get wiggy on comfort. I've been around 29 years now and most of the people who I've watched brazenly gaffe are often the drunk and, yes, the comfortable.

"Well, he got too comfortable around his employees and foolishly revealed to everyone in the office that he and his gardener have a thing whenever his wife takes her trips to Montreal."

These things happen, and probably more as result of comfort than booze.

Comfort can also cripple the most eager and ambitious sot. "Last year Jimmy finally sold a single. But now that he's living off the royalties he hasn't gotten off the couch. He ballooned from 130 pounds to 190 in a matter of six months!"

Indeed. Comfort claims oodles of unsuspecting victims. In fact, comfort is what I think happened to Sarah Hunt, daughter of billionaire Phillip Anschutz and the director of the new American Museum of Western Art in Denver, one day in May when the aristocrat declared on Colorado Public Radio that, as a child, she found paintings of both snakes and "Indian dances" most unsettling.

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Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner asked Hunt, “I wonder if when you were a kid you were ever perplexed or even creeped out by certain paintings.”

“Oh certainly," Hunt responded. "Some of the images, particularly the Santa Fe and Taos paintings, for a child, are a little bit scary. ... Snakes, you know, Indian dances. It really fed the imagination."

"You opulent, blundering beast!" I shouted. "How dare you!"

I'd been in my car when I happened upon the program and Hunt, so I pulled over, turned the volume up full-bore and continued to listen as she and Warner praised the millions of seedy encroaching Western settlers and their want of "opportunity, hope, the chance at striking it rich," as Warner so softly romanticized.

Well, we're in August, folks, and for the past two and half months I've been on hold with the museum and its PR reps. At least three times now they’ve scheduled me to come in and take a tour, maybe even speak directly to Hunt, but every time and at the final hour they've called and canceled, citing an overwhelmed schedule.

I'd wanted to give Hunt an opportunity to explain herself and her foul faux pas. I sought to see if she'd freak out and dive headfirst under a nearby table if I laced on some bells and started to grass dance in her lobby, bowing my head, extending one leg out and bending the other under. Maybe that's too frightening a thought for the art director. "An Indian wants to come talk to you, ma'am," says her PR assistant. "Oh, God, no! Will he have bells!?"

Well the interview, at this point, doesn't look like it'll happen. So what? I've given many people the opportunity to explain themselves and the majority of them have refused to even try. Yes. There's a definite fear factor involved here with Hunt and the museum. I can smell it like sour milk or tainted wasicu tobacco. Don't put that muck in your pipe. It burns like their arrogance. Ho-la!

And here I go, all riled up again, completely stoned on caffeine and chocolate. My energy is too high to handle! Where's that grass dancing regalia? Get Sarah Hunt on the phone! Who the Hell has the audacity to group their fear of snakes with their fear of Indians dancing in a group? Who are these mouths? I pity two groups of people: the willfully ignorant and the many cowards who hide behind their computers and pseudonyms as they criticize scribes with spines and uncovered faces. Tisk, tisk.

Okay. Enough of that. Another Magic Mike commercial just flew across the screen and I suddenly feel the need to hit the gym, strengthen my core like I would every morning 11 years ago when I was in the Marines. My senior D.I. called me "Chief." I told him that was offensive. Moments later I was vomiting and sweating and bleeding from unrelenting exercise. Old habits die hard, so I work out even when I don't want to, and probably way too hard. Oh, well. This time I'll think about arrogance, the museum and why I do this thing that pisses off and pleases, tickles and teases so many. Hoka.

Simon Moya-Smith is a journalist and blogger from Edgewater, Colorado and a registered member of the Oglala Lakota Nation.