This is a memory post.
It’s been a very long while since I’ve been content. There are a lot of reasons. The post-PhD blues. The sudden left turn in my career plans. Home stuff. Parent stuff. Lots of stuff hit me pretty hard.
To be discontent is to be restless. I’ve spent a long time wanting to be somewhere else, doing something else that seemed more important or interesting or successful. The only relief from this ugliness was to lose myself in some sort of design work: an infographic, a spreadsheet, a flowchart, a report. I craved these because they calmed me down and made me forget everything for a few hours. There was no spectrum – only a binary of disappointed disengagement and complete absorption.
Tonight I took a walk with my daughter through the neighborhood to the elementary school playground. We passed birds, got lost looking for a shortcut, played the word association game (“Summer!” “Swimming Pool!” “Stomach!” “Fried Chicken!”), picked up some littered water bottles. We played on the see-saw. While she worked on her monkey bar skills, I sat on the park bench and wrote a quick email to a friend who is (probably still) driving home from out-of-town. It went something like this:
You’re almost certainly driving. I want to tell you why I know I’m happy. I went on a walk tonight with lindsay and now I’m waiting while she practices the monkey bars at the school playground. I can’t imagine being happier anywhere else. Also I’m planning a blind taste testing of yogurts from around the world for work. Icelandic. Greek. British. Etc. it took forever to settle on peach as the standard flavor. It’s stupid but it makes me smile. I love my clothes, particularly these crazy jungle print workout pants that go with a surprisingly large number of my shirts. I love laying outside on the patio. It’s easy for me to get out of my car every morning. And I love sitting on the park bench cataloging all the stupid little things I love. This is me being happy 🙂
The wild swings between distraction and flow have finally quieted down. It took me a minute to understand that I had defined happiness as being content: a desire to be nothing more than myself doing what I am doing with the people I have in my life. That’s not to say I don’t have plans – I have the biggest plans – but I can finally settle into them with a little satisfaction, a lot of curiosity, and tons of smiles.
Featured Image by: Tamara Menzi