This GQ interview with Stephen Colbert is damned interesting. Especially the bit on discomfort, and his comfort with it.
“You gotta learn to love when you’re failing.… The embracing of that, the discomfort of failing in front of an audience, leads you to penetrate through the fear that blinds you. Fear is the mind killer”….
The central tension in his life, he said, is between being a “reasonably friendly, good-at-a-cocktail-party guy” and walking around the world feeling like he’s not quite a part of it. “I’m a very uncomfortable person,” he said. “I really like people, and I also don’t always know what to do with them.… I have always had an eclectic roster of friends, but there’s something about my work that speaks to a deep discomfort with being in society.”
He said he trained himself, not just onstage but every day in life, even in his dream states, to steer toward fear rather than away from it. “I like to do things that are publicly embarrassing,” he said, “to feel the embarrassment touch me and sink into me and then be gone. I like getting on elevators and singing too loudly in that small space. The feeling you feel is almost like a vapor. The discomfort and the wishing that it would end that comes around you. I would do things like that and just breathe it in.” He stopped and took in a deep yogic breath, then slowly shook his head. “Nope, can’t kill me. This thing can’t kill me.”
I hate being uncomfortable. I am embarrassed constantly. (Mike might say here that I’m also embarrassing constantly.) I’ve basically set up my life so that I am uncomfortable as rarely and as mildly as possible. This interview is probably the closest I’ll come to understanding those who embrace fear, and risk, and anxiety as easily as I choose to keep myself safe and happy.