Life Musings

Cultivating Contentment

      There is a saying in Spanish, “estar en su mero mole,” which literally means to be in your very own sauce, or to be in one’s element. To belong. I first heard this expression from my Spanish teacher Cherie as she was talking about her love for Mexico. A short, blonde haired woman from Chicago, she came alive as she spoke of her passion for the Mexican culture and language. As she traveled with us throughout Mexico for our semester abroad, her eyes sparkled with joy and happiness for her home away from home. She had found her mero mole.

         My youngest sister has fallen in love with Nashville and is establishing roots there, my other sister is packing her belongings and moving to Guadalajara, convinced the “land of eternal sunshine” is where she is meant to spend her days, happy to forego Midwestern winters forever.

I’m still looking for a place to call home. A place where my roots can settle into the dark, deep earth, a place that resonates with the quiet song of my soul. I have been told to bloom where I’m planted, but the soil is dry and the gray sky too ominous for my spirit to feel nurtured. And so I’m packing my bags yet again, searching for a place to fit in, hoping the road will lead me to a clear path, an open meadow where the birds sing and the grass grows tall.

DSCN6339DSCN6223       “I hope you find it,” my friend Nick tells me earnestly after confiding my discontent with the Midwest and my hopes of finding a place to belong. His voice is doubtful and cynical, filled with resignation at his own inability to conform, willing to accept the lot of the misfit. I am not so willing.

Contentment has never been my strong suit. In fact, I’m not sure which came first, my restless spirit or my love of travel. After years of navigating self-imposed transitions (usually involving boxes and aeroplanes), the feelings of wanderlust and discontent seem to compliment each other like two old friends, well worn and intimate, familiar and ragged. I am very good at leaving but staying is a habit that eludes me, always searching for and anticipating the grand escape, the exit sign blinking in the dark, its neon light comforting and reassuring as I feel in the black shadowy hallway for its promise of freedom. 

        The ability to pack up and leave has led me to experiences and people I wouldn’t trade for anything. I’ve played with orphaned children in Africa, spent sunny days on Greek islands, and trekked through the Amazon jungle. I’ve watched, learned, and loved in foreign languages, turned strangers into friends and dreams into reality. I am blessed and fortunate to have seen so much in my young life. Yet, as I begin a new adventure I want to be a seeker of tranquility. I want to search for the secret to gratitude and practice serenity for the present moment. I want to cultivate contentment.

It won’t be easy. There will be days when I am exhausted by the pace of life on the road, frustrated by another language barrier, feeling lack instead of abundance when my pocketbook dwindles. Thankfully, Contentment doesn’t ask for perfection or self-actualization. She doesn’t run on adrenaline or chase after the next biggest thrill. I don’t have to stay in one place or keep my wanderlust in check.

If one day, I find my mero mole, contentment will be there too. A little rain, some pruning when the time is right, and the morning light are all I need to cultivate the seeds of gratitude and contentment. I carry them with me in my heart where their roots grow strong and deep.DSCN4703

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  • Reply Colleen Brynn March 14, 2013 at 12:05 pm

    I find I fit in most when I am with a bunch of people who don’t fit in… meaning when I am with my Mexican, Brazilian, Polish friends, all sitting around a living room in England… or with some other random smattering of travellers in Brasil. Maybe there isn’t just one place to fit in, but countless people to fit in with… anywhere in the world.

    • Reply Mariah March 14, 2013 at 2:50 pm

      Colleen, I agree completely. My closest friends are an assortment of misfits (including myself) from many different backgrounds. There is definitely a kindred spirit among travelers that’s hard to duplicate in any other circumstance, which is one reason I love traveling! I seem to run into trouble when I stay in one place for awhile because all of my nearest and dearest are scattered all over the globe!

  • Reply Pablo March 13, 2013 at 11:41 pm

    Love this post! Has there ever been a place or is there a place that you feel might be your mero mole?

    • Reply Mariah March 14, 2013 at 2:53 pm

      Thanks Pablo! I think certain places have been my mero mole at different times in my life, but after 3 or 4 years I usually feel like I’ve outgrown them and it’s time to move on. What about you? Do you think it’s possible for restless souls like ourselves to ever put down permanent roots?

      • Reply Pablo March 21, 2013 at 11:14 pm

        You know I always wonder that. Growing up I was always convinced that I would have 2 or 3 different homes. One in Mexico, one in Colorado and one somewhere else, probably Italy.

        I don’t I could ever stay in just one place but who knows. Maybe when I’m older things will change…nah haha

        • Reply Mariah March 22, 2013 at 8:09 pm

          Wouldn’t that be the dream? Colorado and Italy are on my list of top three places to live. Add California to the mix and I’d be a happy gal! My other dream is maybe owning a bed and breakfast. That way you could still be surrounded by travelers but in the comfort of your own home. Who knows what life will bring!

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