Sunday, December 31, 2017

Contentment Lurks

Let me introduce myself. A therapist once told me I was an Enneagram 4. She said 4s look at a room and say it would be beautiful with a chair over in that corner, and that’s absolutely true as 4s add creativity, but 4s tend to focus on what’s missing. That’s all I know about enneagrams and 4s. I also know I’m a Pisces/Aries cusp, for whatever that’s worth. I also know I’m bipolar. And it’s dark outside.

So mostly, I live in a world of lots of unlimited possibilities that feel impossible. I collide with things and events, try inadequately, do them wrong, and mostly don’t fit. I can find my way into a profound depression at the drop of a hat and spend most of my time working my way out of one. With tiny bursts of elation in between. My glass is often half empty … unless it’s overflowing.

But every now and then,

once in a while,

just occasionally,

simple contentment settles in me.

Sophie, the adult daughter, was in town. She’d raved about a book, and I put a hold on it at the library. When it came in, she said, “Let’s go to the library, get the book. Now.” We did. It’s a 700-page book! (Who reads a 700 page book?!? Oh, no. Another insurmountable chore...)

We came home. She went into the living room.

I did laundry.

“Where are you?”

“I’m putting things away.”

“Where are you now?”

“Just washing up.”

“Where are you NOW??? Come into the living room and read with me.”

I did.

“What page are you on? Don’t you like it?”

I did! We sat in the living room and read.

The next day we had friends over. We had LOTS of friends over. (4ish Barbara said, “Oh, no, there won’t be enough food.” Judith, my role model who looks at life through the prism of abundance, said, “There’ll be enough food. Friends will bring.” Judith is a miracle of non-4.)

Long after our friends left and Tim and I were putting away LOTS of food, the twenty-somethings were still playing and laughing in the living room. Laughter rocked the house. Sophie turned to us and said, “This was a great party!” It was. I am part of a community, and that community was in our house (even though I wasn’t a very good hostess because I was distracted a lot of the time).

That night, I couldn’t sleep. Sophie had gone out and hadn’t come home. I worried. I thought of that nightmare that always peeks around the corner.
In the morning, she said she’d gotten in earlier. I hadn’t heard her.

Tim and I took her to the airport. She’s off to her own New Year’s Eve party. We’ll see her in March.

I lay down on the couch. The couch that Deena had noticed at the party and said it must be heaven to lie on that couch and read. It is my spot. I pulled out the book. (I’m on page 300 now.)

I looked around at the living room and didn’t see the plants that need trimming, the old videos that need culling, the pillow that needs repair. I didn’t fret that I should be exercising or out in the air, that I hadn’t written or painted in a while.

I looked at my living room, and it looked like home. A home with scraggly plants, old videos, and a torn pillow. (And although I thought about all the refugees without homes, I didn’t WORRY about them right then and there.)

I let contentment in.

I lay there – with that book – in the right place for me in that moment. The universe was good, I was in it, and I fit.

Tomorrow I won’t fit, but today, I remember that I did.

Happy New Year.


  1. Yes, it was a great party! Now pat yourself on the back and enjoy some downtime reading on your couch. It's getting a little bit lighter every day now.

  2. Things are mysterious to me. Here I thought I was shamelessly flagging what a bottomless pit of angst I usually am, and everyone responded to the moment of contentment. There's another lesson for me here. Thank you.

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