it is to die
to the truer
font of happiness
in my body that
the full spacious
– David Whyte, Newly Married
The realization of not being thirsty anymore, of being content with the life you’re living and all that it means; the relationship you’re in, the place you live, the work you do, the mark you’ve made, the places you’ve gone to and returned from, and the fitness level you’ve achieved, this is the promised land of contentment. I look at that list in the previous sentence and know I’m more than halfway there. But the fact that there’s still a list indicates I have a way to go.
Whyte writes of relationships and having found his thirst-quenching soulmate. When you reach that particular point you recognize immediately that yes, this is more than enough for me in this area of my life. And if you haven’t, well, you’d recognize that too. Contentment isn’t the same as complacency, and each day requires a recommitment to seeing it through. To seeing it continue to tomorrow and the tomorrows to follow.
Lately I’ve turned my attention back to fitness and nutrition. Eating the right foods, drinking in moderation, exercise and a recommitment to my flexibility and strength that has somehow been missing for too long. I recognize within myself that there’s a thirst, a hunger if you will, to be better than I presently am. This is my current area of discontentment.
The thing is, things change, and change constantly. If at one point in life I was content with my overall fitness level, I’m not now and work to change it. If I was once content with the number of days I spent traveling and exploring the world, now I’m restless and ready to get back out there. Circumstances change, and we change with circumstances. Contentment is a relative thing, and it’s relatively evasive. We must work for that which we seek in our lives.
I expect Whyte knows this too. He didn’t say lifetime contentment, but present contentment. We’re dynamic beings coexisting with a dynamic and ever-changing world. Contentment is meant to be evasive. Our purpose is to keep working at this fragile dance, and make of it what we can in the time given to us. To be content with being a work in progress seems the ultimate measure of contentment.