Thirty years. I am 53, which means, barring any accidents or major illnesses, I have roughly 30 years left to find contentment with what I have lived in this life. Contentment is not a destination one wants to reach only at the end of life. Contentment is like a reliable travel companion as one travels the path through life.
Some days I focus easily on the moment and I enjoy a sense of peace that can only be interpreted as contentment. Other times, I think about how I’ve fucked things up with Paige or have hurt Claire or Grace, and I feel miserable about myself. I have been taught that each of us makes the choice in every moment how we feel about our lives. We choose our emotions, whether we feel happiness, anger, sadness, despair or joy. From moment to moment, we choose how we feel across each emotion. Inevitably, looking back over the past is an automatic feel bad. Looking toward the future is often not much better. I often feel sad about both.
So I go back to thirty years. Why would I want to feel badly about life for the next thirty years? The control is mine, even when I don’t think it is so. Even when I blame others for supposed transgressions against me. When my ex pisses me off. When my daughter Paige rejects my efforts to reconcile. When I don’t show up to my daughter’s swim meet on time because the time was changed and no one informed me. All on me.
I know these things, yet I don’t always embrace them. I often fall disastrously short of wise or aware or thoughtful. I often get tripped up too easily in my journey of awareness. Fingers point. And they point at me. I am the only one to blame for my state of happiness, of contentment.
Why does the sense of peace about my life remain so elusive? Like water through my fingers or my breath on a cold day, I cannot grasp contentment for more than an instant. I breathe. I exist. I ache. I feel. I cry. I reach out.
Thirty years into the future is too big a concept for me to digest. Moments are much easier to think about. If I fill my life in each moment with laughter, and joy and kindness, might all those moments add up to thirty years of contentment?