Wednesday, March 10, 2010
I used to think of myself as an easy person: easy going, easy to get to know, easily satisfied, easy on myself and on others. But the older I get--and the more wise (please, Lord)--the more I recognize my true self. She stares back at me in the mirror every day, and yet only now am I becoming honest with the reflection. Okay: as honest as I can be. Hopefully in thirty years I'll be refreshingly self-actualized.
I've written several posts about this quandry of living in the moment, of embracing life as it is: enveloping the present. I write about it in a cathartic fervor, but I have trouble following through. I say I'm going to do it--live IN my life--and yet I let life whiz by like an L train above my head, clattering the rails and screaming towards a bevy of mult-stop destinations, all neon and light, a flash of soon-forgotten faces marred by a grid of dirty windows. In truth, I'd prefer to be like the elderly couple who ride their bikes every day through my neighborhood, decked in their matching sweatsuits and bike helmets. They toodle along, sometimes shouting conversation to each other, one behind, one in front; at times they ride in silence, smoothly, bike wheels spinning leisurely as they pass bungalows with new flowers, yapping dogs. They let SUVs full of kids and DVD players and harried mothers, or hatchbacks driven by irritated teenagers short-cutting to the nearby high school, wait on them as they round corners or cross intersections. They smile at me when we pass each other, say hello. Personally, I think they've got it made.
People who have the talent of "letting go" are always recognizable. They claim an aura of peace and satiation: there's an otherwordly quality to them that attracts some and leaves others suspicious. At times they are aliens--like they've sold their souls for a chance at figuring it all out. At others, they are angels--forgiving, sweet, present. There was a boy I went to high school with who was like this. His name was Gary, and he was beloved by all. I hope the world hasn't changed him too much.
I'd prefer to be more like these people. Sadly, I don't think I have the goods. I am tempestuous, analytical, sensitive, erratic. I long to be patient, thick-skinned, even-keeled. I don't want to one day realize that I've lived a life of length but not of width: that I wasted time wanting more and forgot to notice that I really had everything.
I want to, instead of worrying over finding work, making money, "contributing," recognize (and be completely satisfied and happy with the fact) that my current job is Mama. My husband is happy with this state of affairs; in fact, he's constantly encouraging me to do less--to let caring for our infant daughter and taking care of things at home be who I am right now. Inately, I know this is a huge contribution to our lives, and I'd like to be happy in it and with it. Instead, I scramble to teach random classes that pay me next to nothing and make my husband rush home from work to take care of our daughter, simply to feel that I'm doing something MORE.
Contentment. That's what I seek. That's what we all seek, isn't it? But I'm coming to realize that being content just might not be who I am. Part of me never wants to be satisfied with everything in my life and in my person. To be satisfied, completely satisfied, is to stop the search. For me, ending the search would be akin to death. Maybe I can find contentment without complete satisfaction--or, perhaps, allow contentment, peace, to seep into my life in little ways: a cool fog sweeping across a mountain trail, refreshing the sweating, aching body, but still allowing glimpses of the view ahead.