To consistently feel contentment is a goal I’ve had most of my adult life. Oh my gosh, I sat here wondering if that were accurate for a few minutes and realized that I might be getting old. I wasn’t content as a young adult. I wanted my own apartment, college and career, all those things we are told to dream of in high school.
In my early twenties my dreams shifted to having enough money to pay the rent on time, or to buy food without wondering if I’ll run out of money before my next paycheck. Then I wanted that job, that boyfriend, those shoes, that vacation, the list went on and on. Once I had the next goal in hand, then I’d feel content. Only then would everything be as it should be.
I was generally happy in my pursuits. It never occurred to me that I was not or even should be content. Discontent is not a bad thing; it’s how we move forward and make things greater than they are. Progress comes from discontent with the status quo.
“Speech under present conditions would have seemed to me unnecessary, imperfect, and even vulgarly overt. She, too, was silent. But now that I am alone, and memory is alone with me, I am convinced that she also had been happy. No, not that exactly. ‘Happiness’ is not the word to describe either her feeling or my own. Happiness is more active, a more conscious enjoyment. We had been content. That expresses our condition perfectly; and now that I can analyze my own feeling, and understand what the word implies, I am satisfied of its accuracy.” From The Lady of the Shroud by Bram Stoker
That was my first decade of adulthood. In my second decade, the one where I acquired a husband, a home, and children, is where I realized I may need to slow my roll a bit and find some contentment. There is a balance in everything, right? We can’t run after new things non-stop without creating more discontentment.
I am currently entering my fourth decade as an adult, so it’s not accurate to write that I’ve had feeling consistently content as a goal most of my adult life, more like half of it as things stand.
I’m often happy, but rarely content, so this line struck me as a bit sad. How beautiful it would be to feel content, to long for nothing else than what you have in hand at that moment. And then I read the rest of the paragraph.
“’Content’ has both a positive and negative meaning or antecedent condition. It implies an absence of disturbing conditions as well as of wants; also it implies something positive which has been won or achieved, or which as accrued.” From The Lady of the Shroud by Bram Stoker
Struggling to consistently feel content is a lost cause. It’s not possible, or beneficial, to feel content at all times. Contentment in a moment is the result of something won or achieved, but it’s fleeting and rightfully so. Our hearts and minds rest in contentment and when refreshed they move on to the next goal to be achieved. What is it that the Mandalorian says? “This is the way.”
It’s fascinating what can bring enlightenment and change the way a person thinks about the world around them. For me, it’s more often than not a book I have stumbled across. This time a fictional work, written 110 years ago, about wild romance, a war, and the strange way it all came about has triggered me to rethink my pursuit of contentment.
And then my tv comes on…ugg…I swear this new tv has a mind of its own. I have no idea why it does this, other than an international communist conspiracy to distract me from my thoughts.
Hop back to “Stoker’s The Lady of the Shroud” for more posts inspired by this book.
I love it when something I read causes me to stop and think or assign what I have just read to my own life.
I have to say I believe contentment has a finite time limit. (Probably because I am not always content, do I justify it as such!) I like to believe that if we are lucky, or actually choose to be so, we have many of these moments. Or maybe there are levels of contentment? Now you have me thinking!