Why Is The Struggle So Seductive?
Last year, if I'd read the thoughts that are going through my head these days I'd have rolled my eyes, clicked the red X, and written myself off as another annoying pusher of simple happiness. I'd have talked a little bit of smack. I'd have tried to find the ways in which I could legitimately call bullshit.
People seem to love hearing about your life when things feel hard. It's easy to relate to hard. It's become more "real", hard. And I love parts of that. I love that people have cyber-hugged me through my struggles as a wife and as a mother. I love that the post that elicited more private responses than any other was my public decision to go on Prozac. I love that me sharing my hard makes you willing to share yours.
The thing I don't love about hard, though, is that it's started to trump content. People seem to think you're hiding something if you talk about things going well. And if they don't think you're hiding something, they're annoyed with you for making their less-than-contentedness that much more glaring. I know this because I've taken many turns being the annoyed one, the one sure that something's being hidden.
Why? Why aren't we fervently encouraged to share the shiny bits, too? Why is The Struggle so much more compelling?
I don't know the answers to those questions. But I do know that I've been captivated by The Struggle for so long that this new era I seem to have entered - The Era of Contentment - feels almost completely foreign and woefully untrodden.
It's so new that I don't really know how to talk about it.
But I read something last night that gently nudged me toward myself. As David James Duncan says here:
"It’s an odd Catch-22: If we feel the Unspeakable and then try to speak of what we felt, we sound like fools. But if we feel the Unspeakable and don’t speak, we feel like ingrates. I’m inclined toward gratitude. So, foolishly, I speak.
In the defense of fools everywhere, let me add that my awkward speaking has occasioned decades-long exchanges with wonderfully alert people: Buddhist and Christian monks, lay contemplatives, artists, poets, wounded healers, hunters, fishers, farmers, and benign ragamuffins of all kinds. And when we’ve been foolish enough to whisper, in our poems or prose, of unseen spirit threads linking us to an unseen guileless Presence that seems at times to open the gates of heaven, still other shy strangers have come like deer out of hiding to whisper of their own such experiences, and a sweet lexicon of gratitude and mystery has, in fits and starts, come into being. Hard to express though it is, I believe America needs this lexicon to save its very life."
I read that and realized that if I'm a fool, at least I'm a fool in good company. Because I, too, believe that not only America but the very world needs to be discussing the Unspeakable (or God/the Universe/Holiness/Love/the Light) and how it both lives in us and comes from us.
And because I, too, have heard the whispers of your experiences when I share my own.
I am a fool in the very best company.
So here goes.
I am content. I'm content for maybe the first real time IN MY LIFE. Everything is the same except my perspective. I'm seeing goodness. I'm seeing gratitude. I'm seeing enough. I'm seeing individual humans with individual stories instead of quick judgments and sweeping assumptions. I'm seeing it's-not-all-about-me. I don't expect to be happy all the time. But I do know that if I'm unhappy, I'm the only one who can fix it.
I'm becoming mystified by The Struggle. Why is it so seductive? Why does struggling feel more "real" than choosing contentedness?
Please know this: I'm not suggesting that struggles have disappeared - I still drop eggs on the floor and transfer money to the wrong checking account and worry about whether or not we have enough wood to get us through the winter. What I am suggesting is that it's entirely up to me whether or not these struggles become moments in my life or the basis of my life. Can I see the hard moments for what they really are? Moments? Or is something about The Struggle wooing me, feeding me, giving me something I can't see?
These are the questions I now ask myself on the regular. I'm amazed to see myself living a content life, a life peppered with momentary challenges, yes, but a life hung firmly under a halo of Enough.
And I want to be able to talk about it.
It's still me in here, but shit is definitely shifting. I'm scared I'm going to lose my edge. I want to learn how to blend sass with spirit.
I will get there.
But for now, let me just say this: I want to be a fool with you.
PS: The Simplified Planner got packed up and shipped off today to BJ, our winner. Thanks to all who entered!