Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Contentment examined

I have never been accused of being emotionally tone-deaf.  I know the full range of human emotion simply from living a full life. I know grief from the deaths of family and friends, some harder to bear than others.  I know joy and love from children, grandchildren and even my silly pets.  I have been enormously satisfied with some of my work and gratified that so much of what I set out to do in life - raising great kids, mastering pottery, writing - I have done. However, it is contentment I find most pleasing.

To be content is more than just being satisfied with things as they are.  To be sure, a certain lack of striving is key to it, but contentment does not rule out the continuing search for excellence, it just makes it more natural.  Contentment comes with a reassurance that one is on the right path, that one can meet whatever may come with equanimity, and that one is simply enough.

I think contentment, with the exception of infancy, is the province of later life.  Youth is too rushed, too worried, too full of ambition. When one is content, one might trade one's body for that of the younger self, but never the mind.  The lessons learned are too valuable, more precious than knees that work painlessly or unlined skin.

Contentment is full of acceptance - of those things missed as well as achieved.  It can acknowledge what might have been and see potential that might have been better used but rests easy in what is. It understands that the past are future are only versions of today.

There are those who have more than I, more money, more family, more friends, more success.  There are many who have less. Contentment has taught me to live without comparison.  For how does one compare the quality of the love one shares with that of another?  Contentment teaches comfort in one's own skin to such as extent that one can reside there without envy, bitterness, or fear.

Today I am content.

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