I saw a couple things that really resonated with me on social media yesterday. Which platform each was originally from I cannot remember. That isn’t important. I may write about both eventually, but today I feel drawn toward one in particular.
What I saw was a picture of a log cabin on the edge of a beautiful lake at sunset. With it was a quote that said, “I want to build a life that I don’t need a vacation from.”
In my first ever post I talked a little bit about my recent uncertainty with the direction of my life. I don’t think this is an uncommon theme in the life of someone my age; it seems that all of my friends are having similar struggles.
I wish I could answer questions for myself so that I could provide insight for my friends. They deserve vision. Someone who can pull over to the side of the road at night when their headlights are burnt out, replacement bulbs in hand, so that they are not alone, stuck and scared. I want to provide them light. I want them to get where they need to go.
Why are we all struggling with this same problem? I think I have always been drawn to those whose tendencies align with my own. We are all extremely independent, free hearted, mostly happy humans. Why are we having this contentment struggle?
We are all trying to build this life that we don’t need a vacation from. In the presence of others we say, “I will get there someday,” but when we are left to our own devices, alone in the space of our own minds we wonder, “Will I?” Sometimes our outward positivity turns inward; we stay positive and think that we will indeed get there. But how long are we willing to wait? Until we get that next job? Until we fall in love? Until we get married? Until we retire?
I can tell you how long I am willing to wait. Not a single freaking day longer. I am entirely dedicated to making life work today. I struggle through every day trying to find out how I can find the capacity in myself to be happy with what I have, because what I have is amazing. I have my people. I have a place of my own to live. I have a job with benefits that pays my bills.
Sometimes it feels like this should be enough. Why am I unhappy with what I have when what I have sounds so great? If I read this piece two years ago my younger self would have thought I was crazy. A full time job! Your own place! You get to see your people on a regular basis! What more can you ask for?
Let this be said for my skeptical 22 year old self. She was far from content. She would have taken any full time job offered to her because anything seemed better than where she was. She was so lost in a void of uncertainty that she would have never been able to see how someone could be unhappy with a life they built all their own.
Thankfully, I can see this person now. We stand apart. She is still with me, like a roommate in the bedroom next door. I am able to hear her snore when she sleeps and feel her pain when she is hurting. When she knows I am struggling she comes to me and says, “Why can’t you find fulfillment in what you have?”
“I am happy. I try to be fulfilled,” I say to her, “but there is something missing.”
She looks at me with baleful eyes like a puppy that finds her owner in a sick bed.
“What do I do?” I say to her.
“Fight,” she tells me. She cannot tell me how. She doesn’t know. But she knows the terror of feeling hopeless. She has imagined being stuck in the same place, unfulfilled and discontent, desperately running up a steep hill over and over, each time losing her balance and tumbling back down.
She knows the real terror is in stillness. In resigning yourself to sticking it out and dealing with it hoping for something else to come along. Remaining stagnant in dissatisfaction is her great nightmare.
She reminds me of this when I need a kick in the ass. She takes me by the hand and helps me up, off the concrete floor of my own mind. She gives me a boost to help me climb. We will work together to find our happy place. We will build a life that we don’t need a vacation from.
In my mind I know that I have not yet arrived. This is not it for me. Maybe it will take years and years to be there. Maybe true fulfillment is just a wisp of smoke on the wind, grasped at but impossible to catch. Maybe it’s a myth. A figment of our human imaginations.
My heart says it isn’t. He works with my younger self to lift me up to our life without the need for a vacation. My head knows it will take time, but my heart wants it today. Can you blame him?