Life Musings

In praise of contentment

The newly planted Hosta grows tall toward the ceiling in an orange terracotta pot just a shade off from the color of the wall above the fireplace. The dishwasher hums and swishes. Ray LaMontange croons, “Tell me what your heart wants…my heart is like paper, yours is like a flame” in his sultry and soft voice. 

The room is dark and cool, the heat locked outside for now. Sunshine collects on green leaves turning yellow. It is mid-summer, sweltering, languid, full of exhaustion and life bursting at the seams, saturated with sweat and soaking in presence.

Lone Jack, Missouri 2018

For days, (maybe weeks? Time drips like a leaky faucet, constant and calculated yet suddenly an ocean appears and it is vast.) I have been searching for the horizon. For the velvet violet of the setting sun or the scarlet blossom of a rising dawn. In an empty prairie I stand, scanning the skyline for a hint of movement or measure or meaning.

I do not know what I’m looking for.

A sign? A song? A secret whispered on blades of grass, lifed on the dew of evaporated longing?

The still point is not motionless.

Contentment.

It’s what I want, what I’ve been seeking yet I feel uneasy in its presence. Arriving suddenly or maybe slowly, it is the container for a sort of restless peace I have never known. Because I am perpetually waiting for the other shoe to drop (because it always will).

My ego knows it can never clasp the awareness of infinity the soul knows so well. It grasps at its own limitations, always wandering and wondering, looking for trouble and signs of danger. It puts up walls, not only to keep things out but to keep them in.

Contentment on the other hand, meanders its way into my being unadorned. Without bells or whistles or white flags of truce. It comes, like an open door in a house I’ve always known. A stillness in spite of the mad daily rush. A peace that pleasantly coexists with my anxiety.

A presence that does not banish or diminish the darkness but sits beside it willingly.
Kansas City, Missouri 2018

My system is still acquainting itself with this feeling. Of having desires without taking action. Of allowing the hot flash of impulsivity to rise to the surface but letting it be anyway. (All of it). 

These times are hard. The soil seems barren and bleeding and our faces forlorn. Who are we? Who are we becoming? Everyone is crazy. Everyone is hurt. We are the healers and the wounding.

In this climate, contentment does not seem strong enough. In the company of danger and grief and hatred contentment must be a gaff. A delusional head buried in the sand while the rest of its body burns in the heat of a parched no man’s land.

I have questions for the stubborn persistence of peace I feel holding my bones in place. I doubt my worthiness, my privilege, my audacity to speak of ease and the sturdiness of being in the midst of so much turmoil.
Sisters, Grain Valley, Missouri 2018

I fear the other shoe dropping.

What I’m beginning to learn about contentment is that it seeks the lowest ground. It oozes and flows and finds the driest spaces to nourish and soothe. It knows no paradox. It sinks like gravity and soars to eagle height without feeling pulled or split or envy.

It does not envy. It sees with clarity the spectrum of color inside all of us. It knows that what I admire in you is also within me. What I detest in you is there, too.

It is not afraid. Of the past repeating. Of tomorrow never arriving. Of a closed door or revolving ones, either. It is strong without strong-arming. Joyful yet able to console.

A wildflower grows beside a worn gravestone. The wind gently ripples the curtain through a cracked open window. A sunbeam warms the swing-y belly of a curled up cat. The wayward bounce of a little girl’s hair defies all attempts to comb it in place.
Meet Howie, the cat. One of my favorite housemates. Kansas City, Missouri 2018

It is enough.

It is enough to chop wood and carry water. It is enough to take afternoon naps and watch the night sky light up with the hope of a freedom not yet realized. To love the Mystery even while fearing it. To become the still point while moving at lightening speed.

To stand in an open field and let the questions become sweet like honey.

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