As I was getting ready to write this post, and planning out my day, the thunderstorm that had been predicted moved over our house. I had to take a moment to go out and watch. The pouring rain, the growl of thunder… just as I came in, the lightning and thunder were growing louder and right over us. I am sitting in the house at my desk, contemplating being content with where I am. I’ve probably talked about this before, so forgive me if I am treading down a well-worn path. No, not storm-watching, that’s something I love to do, always have, and always will. Rather, the contentment versus ambition debate.
All my life, I have looked for the beauty in where I am, right now, and most of the time I have found it. The beautiful is there, if you open your eyes and truly look. Contentment is like unto that. If you accept that you cannot change – or at least not quickly – your circumstances, and that you can accept them, discover the blessings that surround you, and delight in those, then you can be content. I’ve practiced this for years, through pain and frustration and hopelessness. I found myself getting frustrated the other day with where-I-am versus where-I-want-to-be, and talking with my First Reader about this while we sat on the front porch enjoying a warm spring evening. I’m not happy renting, I want our own house, but we have goals we’ve set in place that we need to reach before we buy. And, as he pointed out with a sweeping gesture across the farmland view we have “I though you never meant to stay in Ohio?”
Well, no. I didn’t. I came here because a four years (less a day) ago he offered me a refuge when I needed a place to go that would enable me to stay in school and reach the goals that were in play back then. We knew we worked, but we didn’t know if we’d work living together day in and day out. Two years later, we were married and in harness pulling together. The conversation we were having was part of that harness that keeps us working as a team – constant communication. I can talk to him about anything, without worrying he’ll be angry at me. And he can talk to me and know I’ll listen and do my best to implement a solution if he has a problem.
I’m sound like I’m digressing from contentment, but I’m really not. This foundation of a solid relationship allows me to be both content where I am, and to be driven towards career and life goals. I have support, and I can lean back against it when I’m tired. I came to Ohio in a place of rootlessness, and I grew roots. Ohio grew on me, or something. I’ve become rather fond of it, and was amused that many of my classmates (later colleagues) would look at me strangely when I revealed that I’m a recent transplant to this green and fertile state. The inevitable question is “Why would you come to Ohio?” I like Ohio, rather a lot, and I’m content here. I’d like to buy a house and write a book on Pollinators of Southwestern Ohio that no-one would buy, with all my bug photos. Are there other places I’d like to be? Also yes.
Being content now means I’m not constantly chafing at the harness. Plodding along daily toward goals that shimmer on the horizon could be really boring and painful. If I take the time from my daily routines to see the beauty around me, time passes more pleasantly, and it feels like a faster ride to meet those goals. They’re no further off than my end-point was when I started back to school. I’m impatient, some days, until I remind myself to seek contentment. Do it right. Don’t rush forward and make stupid decisions. Sometimes you have to decide not to take the easy-looking fork in the road, because you know the harder road, the rougher one, the one that will slow down your progress… that’s the one that is pointed in the direction you want to go.