contentment

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“You have an amazing life,” she marvels.

She is right, I acknowledge. I wonder why it takes her telling me to grasp it. The realization seeps into my fingers and toes like the warmth of a fire after tromping through snow on a below-zero day. It’s like waking up to a sunny day. But it also makes me feel selfish and ungrateful for having to hear it to believe it.

At 33, I have been to more than 20 countries. I have lived abroad three times. I have spent weekends at music festivals and weeks traveling to exotic places for work. I have seen the world from a hot air balloon and a helicopter and dozens of airplanes. I have stood on peaks flanked in granite. I have wiggled into underground caves. I played in a band with musicians whose talent was humbling. I have learned another language. I have swam in two oceans and sailed on ships.

I have a unique kind of freedom that gives me almost total control over what I do each day, each month, each year. Somehow, whether it is from my parents or God or my bosses, I have been supported in each step of my wild endeavors. None of it is anything to complain about. Not even a little.

Yet this year, I have found myself restless, peering from my own wild freedom to the lives of others with twinges of envy. Lives with diamond rings and center pieces and cake tastings. Ones with houses and back yard gardens and date nights. Ones with strollers and onezies and headbands decked with little bows. From the outside, those lives seem so romantic and cozy and rich.

But they each have their own challenges, I’m realizing. I know as soon as I have what they have, I will want something else. The thing about a pasture is it has fences. Contentment is a fleeting state, one that passes through your fingers like water unless you choose to be still. It is easy to talk about and hard to possess.

I have decided to love my life, right where it is.

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