Looking for Contentment

I am a tall woman who lives a small life. I live in a very small town with less than 3,000 people. I work in a small, rural library in a town of only 4,000 people. I rarely travel, except to and from work and to soccer practices and games and to my mom’s house and to most of my mom’s appointments. I run and I read and if I want to have a drink, typically I’ll have it at home where it is considerably less expensive.

Most of the time, I think this is ok.

It’s not the exact life I thought I’d have, but it’s not horrible. It can be hard some days and weeks, but it’s not bad. It can be horribly hectic, particularly weekday mornings (probably like yours, too!)–trying to squeeze in a run or a walk before or in between getting the kid ready and making dinner for that evening and doing laundry or dishes and fitting in a shower in there somewhere. And if I’m volunteering at the school library that morning? Forget it. I don’t even try to exercise on those days unless I’ve been up since 4:30 due to the cats hitting my face with their paws….claws out.

Again, not horrible. A little bloodshed, perhaps, but could be worse. And yet, I strive to find contentment. Do you?

I often wonder if social media is what has done this to me. I see my friends taking their children to far off places or flying to another state to run and drink (and vomit?) but having an adventure of some sort anyway.  Typically I’m very happy for my friends and family and the journeys they are fortunate enough to take, but this week it really got to me. I was thinking about all of those lovely images as I entered the local pharmacy where I needed to pick up extra vitamins for my mother because she couldn’t remember to get them. As I kneeled on the floor trying to determine which calcium was the right one for her and which one wouldn’t bankrupt me, I felt my shoulders slump and had to blink back tears. This? This is what my life is? Sitting on Rite Aid’s floor trying to find the cheapest yet most effective vitamin for my poor mother whose entire life seems to center around her cat? How has this happened?

Once I got back to my car, I had to take some deep breaths and try to snap out of this funk. Feeling sorry for myself or for Mom isn’t going to get either of us anywhere, yet sometimes wallowing in self-pity in private doesn’t really hurt, does it? If it does hurt, then I’m a damn mess.

I didn’t shake the blues until two days later. I barked at everyone at home and at work, until my boss and I had this great conversation about “kitchen envy” and trying to put things in perspective. She loves to cook but has a small apartment with a small kitchen. Yet some of her friends will post photos on Facebook of their gorgeous homes and kitchens and my boss will drool a bit over them. But she reminds herself that she has a small place with that horrible orange countertop so she can have decent vacations and save for a good retirement on the small salary that she makes.

Perspective. Again. I keep having to remind myself that it’s about perspective.

I do live a small life in a small town in a small state. But I also live in a lovely town in a gorgeoudscn3538s state. My family and I took a walk in the Bangor City Forest this weekend, to attempt to “leave town” but also in payment for a promise that we’d do something together OUTSIDE. It was one of the best days I’ve had in weeks. I watched my kid kick butt on the soccer field, I got to walk in the crisp air with the trees falling from the trees with my family around me, then I stuffed myself with sushi and rice noodles and tea. It was a good day. A BIG day in my little life.

Does this mean I don’t want to travel with my family (or without them) or fly off and run a race in another state? No, of course not. I yearn to take my child to San Francisco, a place I’ve always loved, or to go to Seattle, a place I’ve never been but desperately want to go to. I’m not into racing much these days, but I’d love to do the Brain Freezer 5K again, for sure! (No alcohol, but ice cream and possible vomiting.) But for this day, for right now, I didn’t need to buy an expensive gadget or travel to another state to have a great day. I just needed to look around and realize and appreciate the wonderments I had right in front of me.

 

 

 

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Jackie Robinson, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and Me

42.

That’s the age I became at 11:51pm yesterday and so far I think it’s a good age to be. I’m in a decent place in my life. I’m able to run 4 times a week again and am in pretty good shape, although with more “fluffiness” then I’d like. I’m attempting to let that go, and today, after seeing photos of me with that damn muffin top, I still think I’m pretty cute. Skinned knees and all.

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My son is doing well, and although we have a bit of a rough road ahead, we’re off to a decent start of the summer with weekly basketball competitions and many planned swimming pool visits. Hopefully my husband will be part of these physical activities, but we’ll have to wait and see.

Being a librarian is still a good thing for me to be. I sometimes think I want to do something else so I can be with my boy more, but I don’t think I can. I’m not brave enough to jump ship without a safety net, like some of my courageous friends. As much as I’d love to write for a living or go back to school to be an accountant (no joke), I’m in a place in my career AND in my life, where I’m just not willing to rock the boat. Does that mean I’ll never be great like the 42-wearing Jackie Robinson? Probably. But do I care?

Well….not really. Being “average” is not a bad thing. Don’t get me wrong, I still strive to be better in my work, my parenting, my running and in some of my relationships. But to be great? It just sounds like too much work, like something would have to be sacrificed and I’m just not willing to do that right now. Maybe ever.

I remember being in a meeting once with other librarians, and I said that I wasn’t willing to work past closing time. Several of my colleagues laughed at me and said, “Must be nice!” I was seriously annoyed at the time, but after a while I realized that those people were willing to sacrifice more than I was. I get home less than 90 minutes before my child goes to bed, so if I want to talk to and see my kid before he moves out, I better get my ass home as soon as the library closes. Period.

You know, I really don’t believe that a person can have it all–the career, the family, the social life. Something will suffer or maybe even everything.  And even if you don’t strive to have it all, nothing will ever be perfect or even “just the way you want it.”

I think in life there are good days and bad days. Maybe a perfect moment or two or a hundred. And if you’re lucky, you’ll realize that perfect moment as it’s happening and you’ll appreciate it and remember it and hold onto it.

Who knows, maybe Douglas Adams was right. Maybe 42 IS the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything, or rather the year in turning 42 you will find that answer.

Or was it 54?

Only time will tell, I guess. Until then, enjoy those moments of perfection, my friends. And may they be too many to count. ❤