I sit at my desk wearing a fleece jacket zipped to my neck and a thick afghan blanket over my legs. The culprit is the A/C vent in the ceiling over my neighbor’s cubicle. He’s comfortable, by the way, as the vent doesn’t force the air straight down but rather outward in each direction. My hands, starting to tan from time in the occasional sunshine we have been treated to lately, are icy cold on the keyboard.
No matter how I feel about my job overall, this is reason enough to wish I was elsewhere.
I keep planning little escapes in my head. Places to visit, adventures to take. They’re all elsewhere. I want to put my baby girl in a carrier on my chest and hike the trails I used to enjoy. I want to take a day away with my husband to revisit the waterfalls a few counties north of here. There was a day like that from one of our dating summers and it stands out in my memory as particularly splendid. I’d like to take my little boy on an adventure, maybe explore a farm full of animals or go camping for a night, just the two of us. The idea thrills me to take them all, plus my stepson, on a drive to Holy Hill for a day of beauty and fun and peace.
Or I could write. Elsewhere, I could write. Elsewhere, I could sit for hours with my manuscript and pens, marking up the pages with changes and improvements. I could move closer and closer to being ready to seek a publisher.
I want, I want, I want. I could, I could, I could. There is no contentment in letting my mind be occupied in this way. These aren’t bad things to be desiring. Some of them might come to fruition in the near future with some good planning. Focusing on them at the expense of what is right in front of me though, is unacceptable. Instead, contentment might be exactly what I ought to seek right now.
In our everyday language, contentment has taken a bad rap. We use the word too often to refer to “settling” or “resigning.” Settling for less than what you desire or seek; Resigning yourself to circumstances you wish were different. We talk of someone being content with the hand they were dealt, content in their comfort zone, or content to put up with this or that. Maybe we are using the word incorrectly.
Contentment – definition: the state of being contented; satisfaction; ease of mind
Content – definition: satisfied with what one is or has; not wanting more or anything else
Ease of mind. Satisfied. Sounds deliciously wonderful to my restless heart.
I do believe I have feared contentment at times. If I am content, will I stop dreaming? Will I stop striving for greater things or improving myself? Will I no longer seek new experiences?
The answer to those questions might be yes, but it’s completely up to me. Instead, contentment can be exactly what’s needed to be ready for the next dream, the next experience, the next change. Contented peace of mind will allow me to be my best self, present and engaged instead of anxiously longing for the elusive elsewhere. Contentment will open my eyes to the goodness of the moments here and now, to the blessings I take for granted. Contentment will soften my heart to understand why my path has taken me to this place with these people instead of that place with those people. Contentment contains patience, cheerfulness, calm, and joy.