Thursday, December 8, 2011


I have always wanted to be satisfied with what I have.  It's ironic, I'm not even satisfied with my level of satisfaction.  There are many things in my life that I would like to change, improve, even get rid of.  The main thing I would like to improve in myself is my ability to be satisfied no matter what my circumstances might be.  It is by far the hardest thing for me to do.

I aspire to not live based on what other people think of me or trying to live up to other people's expectations but solely based on what I believe are the essentials of life.  Essentials such as peace, love, and mercy. 

Not too long ago I was speaking to a friend who has developed a disciplined habit of meditating for long periods of time --seriously spending time in silence without distractions for at least an hour every day.  I don't know if I could realistically do that but, I do think that there is something very valuable in that habit.  I think that if I spent 30 minutes every day silently meditating, or peacefully praying, something amazing could happen.  My priorities would be gently reoriented on a daily basis.  That essential element of peace starts internally and I think that is probably one of the best ways to develop it.

Another habit that I believe is reorienting and helps me keep my heart and mind in a more satisfied space, is writing.  It allows me to remember what I love, count all my blessings, and purge myself of so many restless thoughts.  Writing here, writing on Contrapunto, writing to friends, and just writing for the sake of writing even though no one might ever read it.  It cleans and focuses me on what I believe is true and good.

I've been thinking a lot about re-focusing that comes from spending time enjoying the beauty of nature and reading.  Maybe even both of those things at the same time.  Peaceful activity, when you live peacefully, your while life tends to calm itself down, even though everything around you might actually be rushing at an unsustainable pace.  I think that more than just wishing that I were more content, I need to live in ways that inspire contentment and carefully avoid all that which inspires dissatisfaction.

The beauty of trying to reorient your life in the direction of love and mercy is that it forces you gently to take your mind off of yourself and spend your energy considering the needs of others.  This is one of the main reasons that I want to try to re-order my understanding of the purpose of money. Or of my money at least.  Thinking of what I have in terms of how I can help those who are in need as opposed to only helping myself.  This is probably one of my most profound challenges.  I want to do so many things that I cannot do because I am limited financially, but I have also been able to do SO many things because I am also blessed financially (even if it doesn't always feel like it).  When I think of those who might not be able to finish elementary school because they don't have enough resources, suddenly my needs seem petty and gratitude grows where there used to be dissatisfaction.  It only really remains, however, when I seek to do something about it.  I think that sometimes contentment might be born out of generosity.

I think the part of my life that most inspires and confuses me is that of "work".  The work that must be done to survive and sometimes done because you love to do it.   It's confusing because it is the one activity in my life that I MUST do and it is the one activity that I find most draining and often least satisfying.  It is not satisfying often because it seems like a rush of activity with little reflection, overwhelming expectations that I'm afraid of not living up to.   This is the one area of my life that I feel like I have stated expectations from other, I am constantly being evaluated by others, it seems terribly difficult to keep up with what is expected of me and it is in this area of my life that I have not figured out how to cultivate satisfaction.  Why is it that what we must do becomes exactly that which takes the life out of everything we do?

I guess what I'm saying is that I would like to spend more time meditating, more time writing, more time in nature, more time reading, more time giving, and less time worrying about what other people are going to think of who I am and what I do.  This is hard, so hard but, I believe it is good, so good.

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live the questions now... R.M. Rilke