‘UNYIELDINGLY HUMAN’ EXCLUSIVE COLUMN BY JOEL CARTNER
LEANING INTO THE UNCOMFORTABLE
People that know me well know that one of my all-time favorite lines from The West Wing (possibly my favorite show) is; "Nature is to be protected from. Nature, like a woman, will seduce you with its sights and its smells… and then it'll break your ankle." Now, before you all freak out, nature is essential (see below). But it does present certain challenges.
Despite having grown up on a farm in the South, and having been kicked, unceremoniously, out of the house and told to "go play" throughout my youth, I've never really been much of an "outdoors person." There are many reasons for this, most of them are physical, and the most cogent of them is that I'm simply less comfortable outside. The world outside is so much more likely to contain trip hazards, climate hazards, and all manner of other sneaky circumstances that someone with the combination of a lack of balance from CP, and the lack of visual acuity and depth perception that comes with a lack of peripheral vision, would find trying to navigate. Even in my most leisurely strolls out in the world, there's some part of me focused on not injuring myself. Outside is where discomfort lives. But over the last several years, and particularly since joining Awareness Ties, I've gotten more comfortable with leaning into the uncomfortable moments.
“From the very first article I wrote, I pointed out that it doesn't always feel great to bare some of the deepest parts of my soul to the public in full view of the people that care about me.”
To some extent, every one of these articles is an exercise in leaning into the uncomfortable. From the very first article I wrote, I pointed out that it doesn't always feel great to bare some of the deepest parts of my soul to the public in full view of the people that care about me. Even writing this article, when I found out the theme of the Issue was going to be the outdoors, a facially innocuous subject, I drew up short. Sure, I could write some light policy brief on why rainforest deforestation is incredibly bad for literally everyone. Yet, short of some specified view as to why that's particularly bad for some as yet unnoticed population, that sort of analysis isn't particularly useful. It was in that discomfort of "what on earth am I going to write about here" that I realized I should lean into the discomfort again.
So, yes, I am not a particularly outdoorsy person for many reasons, somewhat in contrast to this month's Issue. In a twist of fate, however, I also find myself leaning into the outdoors sometimes. When I am at my most scared, most anxious, most sad, etc. I as often as not find myself outside. I cannot tell you how many times during law school, when the world was shredding me to pieces, I would end up on the greenway behind my apartment, making my way to the coffee shop a little way down the road. I would turn on my music and just let it all flow out of me on the trip. Countless people saw me cry, grin like an idiot, or stand totally still on that greenway. That greenway is a decent part of the reason I made it through law school. 65 AWARENOW / THE OUTSIDE EDITION