When I was younger, I found myself dead-set on living out the rest of my life in a state of ecstasy. I lived for small pleasures in the most inappropriate ways, rushed my way through decisions, and I was quick to make snap-judgements based on how I felt things should or shouldn’t be at the time. I was so foolish. And while I still am so very foolish in innumerable and countless ways, I’d like to think I at least have my foolish tendencies (of which I am so unfortunately self-aware) under much better control.
I’m calmer now than I was before. I am content with the time I have, and no longer feel like I should be doing “this” or “that” (whatever “this” or “that” is supposed to be). And while I certainly do stress under self-made deadlines and push myself to achieve personal goals, I no longer berate myself for not being “good enough” or stumbling onto failure. Why should I?
The beautiful thing about life, I’ve learned, is that we can always improve.
And as brief as our lives are in the “big picture”, it is not so brief that we can’t give ourselves pause to simply enjoy it.
Every day I find myself learning more about me, more about what I want to do with the rest of my life, and more about the people around me and how to exist with them. Every day, I find myself less obsessed with having what is bigger, better, newer, or faster. Instead, I find myself more content with what I already have.
How lovely life is in the little things:
- making my bed every morning
- throwing open my blinds to bathe my well-loved house plants in warm sunlight
- pulling fresh laundry out of the dryer and folding my favorite clothing into neat little piles to be stored away
- a sip of hot bergamot black tea
- the first bite of an amazingly sweet wedge of naval orange
- playing with my hair
- making my friends laugh
- laughing at the crazy things my friends say
- lying on the beach with a good book
- chatting with strangers and neighbors
- taking my time looking over nutrition labels at the grocery store
- sneaking a bite of cake (just a bite!)
- … sneaking another bite of cake, and promising I’ll convert those calories into a spirited run
Life is good.
Life is so good, it’s criminal.
What do I have to complain about?
But I wonder … Is this something that happens to everyone as they mature? This mindset, I mean. Does everyone, with age, simply reach this point where they look at themselves, look at what they have, look at the people in their lives and the place that they are, and they think, “This is good enough. This is amazing. I could make do with this right here and be happy” — do people do that?
I think I know what this is.
I think this is me being “settled”.
I mean to say: With all of the crazy things I might potentially do in my life — perhaps I’ll vacation in Paris for a month and get to know the city, or fly down to Hawaii and live by the beach for a while, or ship myself on over to Australia and familiarize myself with the locals — where I am now, at this point in time with no obligations, nothing tying me down, an amazingly supportive family, good friends that I’ve been very careful in choosing (it shames me to say that I do not simply “like” everyone I meet), with a healthy body and stress-free mind, all of this feels like “home” to me. All of this is just enough. All of this makes me happy. I could leave for years and return to this and be just fine. Should I want something more if I feel content where I am?
But I’ve learned a lot.
In my adventures trying to identify the bare minimum of what would make me feel satisfied in life, I’ve hurled myself blindly into the most ridiculous situations. I’ve dabbled in things no uptight person would dare dip their toes in. I’ve dated both saints and sinners, ran wild with the rebellious wolves of my youth despite having grown up Catholic and sheltered. I’ve lived both penniless under bridges and in the company of extreme luxury. I’ve boozed with the best of them then held myself accountable in turn.
The things I could say.
The things I could share if it were only lady-like to do so.
The stuff — all this “stuff” — that I’ve learned.
How precious are the things we’ve learned about this life if we don’t share them? How valuable are our experiences to others if we don’t give them away? If we don’t make use of our gifts or our talents by somehow contributing them through sincerely productive means to the world, how worthless is our existence?
In the spirit of hoping to make our little ecosystem of social intricacies function just that much better (and I refer to our “little” ecosystem only in comparison to the scope of how large the Universe really is, how long it has actually taken for it to become this way, and how brief our existence as human beings in it is by contrast), I offer my doubts. I offer my wisdom. I offer a confused mind, perhaps not so singular and alone in its confusion. I offer worry. I offer despair. And amidst that, I also offer contentedness with having nothing, because I tell you, it is possible. You can have nothing and be perfectly happy. I know it. I’ve lived it.
Let no one bait you down a path with promises of happy endings. Life is not so linear that, assuming we all took the same path, we would all end up in riches and euphoria in paradise. Do away with these notions that life should be this way or that way and, instead, look around yourself and remind yourself that what you are experiencing now, the ground beneath you, the air around you, the oxygen pulled deep into your lungs with purposeful breath, the people who wander in and out of your life doing as they will — see and feel and experience all of this and realize you are just fine doing whatever it is that you are doing.
Calling something “normal” just baffles me.
Are any of us really “normal”?
Do you have any idea the amount of emotionally fucked up but monetarily successful people I’ve met?
People are crazy.
Throughout history, some of the most incredibly brilliant people were also, quite humorously, insane.
This is a fact.
If you’re a little crazy, be a little crazy.
Embrace the eccentricities that make you you.
Never let someone dictate what should or shouldn’t be happiness to you. If you are living your life at your own pleasure and nothing you do is done with the intent to harm or hurt another (unless that person wants to be hurt a little, those kinky bastards), I say carry on.
In the words of Barry, played by Jack Black in the 2000 hit film, High Fidelity, “If [they] don’t like it, fuck them. Let ’em riot.”
Just keep doing you, as crazy and weird or “normal” as you are.
You’ll fit right in.
PS. Here is a photo of me stopped mid-run and barefoot along the beach to gasp at how beautiful the ocean appeared, and to reach down, compelled to touch it. Live your life exactly as you please, and savor those small moments of happiness, brief and fleeting as they are. They only come around so often, but be content in the knowledge that they do come around again and again. Learn to recognize those moments, to appreciate them for what they are, and to be grateful for them. You have enough. Believe me, you have enough. And whatever you have to spare — give. Give as much of it as you can back.
Be well, readers.