Contentment? Je ne sais quoi.
Contentment consists not in adding more fuel, but in taking away some fire – Thomas Fuller
On my women’s abundance call, we discussed the concept of contentment. What does it mean to be content? When are we most content? The inquiry ended with an invitation to begin each day in contentment as a context for our day. I politely declined. I don’t want to do that right now.
I am not sure I really know what it means to be content. Or maybe I do know, and I just forget. I do long for it. But the truth is, I have always longed for it. Even in all my appreciation of and gratitude for my life, contentment alluded me. If I don’t end up more content on the other side of this grand adventure, I want my money back!
Yes, I do know that contentment is not an arrival point… I know it but I don’t live from that knowing. My Mac tells me that contentment means: “quietly satisfied and happy”. It’s the satisfaction part that gets me. What is it to be satisfied? What does that feel like?
Pre-fire, I believed I need to do more, be more, achieve more – and then I could relax, one day. Just this one more thing, then I will know I am ok. I need to be a New York Times bestselling author, not a just a bestselling author; I need to be a TED speaker, not just a TEDx speaker; I need to have 50 clients, not just 25; I need to write more books, not just one; I need to have everyone like me, not just some people. Blah blah blah! The level of acceptance I lived was night and day different from the deep self-destruction of my early days, yet I still wanted to prove something and get somewhere. The illusive “there” would give me all I need. One day I would arrive and whoever was keeping score would give me my prize and I could finally stop.
As I have shared before, nights are my worst time. Alone, with my thoughts in those moments before drifting off to sleep, my brain goes in all sorts of sad places. Last night I was very angry at God. Pisssed would be a better way to say it. F-ing pissed. I know he can take it. I swore at him as I tossed and turned. And, though I still don’t say “why me?”, I do say “why”? And, I do say, what the F? Really, I mean that, what the F? Seriously. I have been very very good. I do the right thing, I work hard, I love big. WTF? What gives? What is the point of this? Why all of us? And, yes, maybe a little “why me?”…
What more do you want from me Universe? I didn’t expect to have life absent of any more curve balls, but this one? My sanctuary? Really, it had to be this one? Of course, I review the other possible scenarios of potential disasters and there are not many I would choose. Stage 4 Lung Cancer, no thank you. David dying, no way. Paralysis, awful. Dogs running away, noooooooooooo.
Last night on my author call, my sweet clients share they are writing more since I have been. Their see their tired excuses, hear their old tapes and are learning to put their money where there mouth is – to write regardless. Their newfound inspiration inspires me in turn and I am fed by their generosity of commitment to make their mark on the world. They share their struggles with self-doubt, their ups and downs in the process – and when they tap into their fiery passion of why they are writing, they astound themselves. It is remarkable to watch. I am happy to have this outlet still. It is one thing that is constant in my world where not much else is.
I too have a writing deadline – a promised piece to turn in on Tuesday and a phone call with my new publisher to back that up. Will I be able to write in that way? My blogging has become my outlet yet I let it develop as I go – winding and turning at each shift in thought. This writing will be different. And, although she says I can keep it raw for the first draft, big surprise, I find my perfectionism rising to the surface. It’s amazing how “having” to write can dampen the creative juices. Suddenly it becomes about performance versus expression. I want to get it right. The driveness resurfaces. All the doubts rush to the foreground and thoughts flee from my brain. I wonder how will I start? How will I finish? Am I really up to this task? These are the questions of the hour….
How will I start? I will start. How will I finish? I will finish. Am I really up to the task? One moment at a time, I am. What other choice is there, really. I could fold, give up, sink, run. I know I won’t do that. I will do what is in front of me; I will ride this roller coaster called life. I will scream as I plummet. I will laugh hysterically as I level off. I will breath a sigh of relief when the ride slows. I will enjoy the heights. I will weep at the lows. I will ride the ride.
If I view the entirety momentous job ahead of us that seems to deepen with ‘must do’ tasks as we go, I become frozen. But right now, sitting in the corner of this great living room in Lynn’s least favorite chair, I am ok. My dogs are restless wanting me to quit this writing and take them on a w-a-l-k; the dishwasher is swooshing and doing its job; birds are chirping; my stomach is growling. Life is happening. In this moment, there is no problem. In the next moment, there may be but right now my mind is still. I don’t have to do this thing perfectly. I can, will and am letting some balls drop. I am forgetting to call people back, leaving my laundry on the floor, letting my hair stay greasy, saying no to new clients, moving very slowly on my inventory list.
As my thoughts rush to the day ahead, I turn them back to right now. I am not going as far as claiming contentment. Oh no no. Well maybe a small flash of it, reminding me it is there waiting for me when I am ready to see that it has been here all along.