Contentment, A Road to Nowhere?


I always said I just want to be content and I’ve strived for that all my life.  Last night, my mind was full of dreams.  All kinds of dreams, some that were work-related, some made sense and others were way out there.  I’m not sure what caused an entire night of dreaming, but they made me wake up thinking about contentment.

Why is contentment only a temporary condition?  Most people strive for the glorious feeling when all the things in your life are aligned and life seems to make sense.  When it is all good.  We allow ourselves to bask in the lovely glow for a short time, then we wait for the next thing to happen that will start us feeling discontent all over again.  Waiting for the next shoe to drop, if you will.  

The next thing always comes along to take us from that perfect place.  Why is life that way?  Why can’t we, as humans, feel content for more than a fleeting moment?  That’s when I started really thinking.  If one is too content for too long, complacency creeps into their lives.  And just what does complacency bring to the table?  Nothing actually.  There is no desire to learn anything new.  There is no need to see anything new because the status quo is working.  

I realize now that we were not made to sit happily in a rocking chair looking at the landscape with total peace.  Sure we have those brief moments, but we were made to accept the challenges set before us.  I avoided the challenges whenever possible because they generally hurt and are not fun.  But it is those life challenges that make us better people if we are open to it.  Don’t get me wrong there are many challenges that life throws at us that seem unfair and sometimes you can get pummeled with multiple challenges at one time.  Some challenges last a short time and are resolved quickly while some linger for what seems like an eternity.  Pain is what many challenges bring and pain is not fun.

But then I got to thinking where I would be if I had stayed cocooned away from the world.  I would have missed a lot of hurt, but I also would have missed out on the feeling of accomplishment one gets when you finally get to kick the challenge in the pants and send it packing.  I would have missed meeting some of the most incredible people.  You can’t meet people when you are hiding.  I would have missed having the chance to grow as a person.  I think back on those dark years when my fear had me convinced I was content but I was too afraid to see I was miserable.  I definitely did not see any growth as a person.  And worst of all,  I would have missed the opportunities to help others.

That’s when it really hit me.  It is the need we have inside to help others that causes us to not be content.  Life is hard for you and me but there is always someone who has it harder.  Sometimes they caused it themselves and sometimes the shoe that dropped was much heavier then one would have expected.  So maybe that’s why the human race finds contentment so elusive.  Because there is always someone to help or some change to be made.  Maybe it is those challenges that keep our blood pumping and our minds always looking for something better.  

I get exhausted some days from the constant looking, looking for that time and space where I have peace and am content.  I think I’ve been looking for the wrong thing all these years.  For whatever reason, my soul is restless but it’s not for peace.  I think, dare I say, I’m looking for the challenges in life. Didn’t I say I don’t like challenges because they hurt?  Yes, I did say that but I was wrong.  I sit complacent and the meaning drains from my life.  I think I’m too tired or too old to jump the hurdles.  But without those hurdles I feel like I’m drowning in mediocrity.  That is the feeling that scares me the most.  I always thought it was the fear of stepping out of my comfort zone when the reality is it is my fear of NOT stepping out of my comfort zone.

That could be why I can’t seem to find what I’m looking for.  Because I’m looking for the wrong thing.  Oh I don’t know. This life and what we are supposed to do with it is so confusing. There are no maps or a GPS to guide us the right way.  The journey is tiring but it can also be exhilarating.  I just wish I hadn’t wasted so much time looking for the wrong thing but I guess it’s all part of the master plan.  You have to make a few wrong turns in life. That’s just how it is.  My experience has not shown me a lot of straight lines from A to B.  Guess that what makes the journey epic. 

Now instead of hitting my head on the proverbial wall looking for constant contentment, I will look at contentment, however fleeting, as a gift to be cherished then move on.  I need to look differently at what I’m looking for.  I hope this path brings me a little closer to where I’m supposed to be.  I feel like I’m in a loop but maybe one of those elusive dreams from last night guided me to this place.  

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