Free to be/ Content
Contentment is simply stability of mind: a steadiness that is sanity. When we are discontent, dissatisfied with the here and now, we leave the present, flutter between highs and lows, creating our own inner imbalance, an insanity that is common, normalized, and even celebrated as drama, authenticity.
We have the misperception that once we achieve all that we desire, we will finally be happy. This view of contentment is a still point, a hard-earned and tightly bound point of stillness. We imagine the sage at the mountaintop to be controlled, reserved, joyless if glowing. The image of drama, the highs and lows of emotional instability, to be far more interesting, exciting, than the serious state of contentment.
Let us re-imagine contentment. Let it be an image of looseness, of full freedom, of the control that includes abandonment of all reservations because with full trust in self, there is no need to control anything, much less oneself.
What is the difference between the freedom that is a high level meditative state, and the freedom that is reckless, destructive to self and others? When we work into ourselves, we recognize what is needed, and we recognize what we find within us as well as around us. With stable awareness that is broad, encompassing, and steady— much like a deep and flowing body of water— we are unswayed by the surface currents of wanting, reaching, following.
Contentment is consistency. When we are discontent, we are chasing the outside world with both mind and body. There is a constant pursuit: the seeking, wanting, searching and the resultant ebbs and flows of elation, disappointment, the highs and lows, the peaks and dips. When we are caught up in the shifts, we are unsteady in ourselves.
And yet contentment does mean complacency. There is the constant work flowing from the constant center. With steady energy, we are able to make clear choices. We can actively say yes to the daily shifts, the scenes within ourselves, working to keep the wider awareness of what is unchanging. And when we seek change, it can be inspired not by discontent but by the natural capability we have to evolve, to adapt, to elevate ourselves.
If we want to feel this joyful, fluid, contentment, we need to step away from the habit of abandoning our centered-self to fall into obsessions, mood swings, short lived dramas. Then we save the energy required to pick ourselves back up, and we no longer need to make the effort to remember our values. That effortlessness is what allows us to be truly present.
These waves happen at every time scale: day to day, as we work 9-5 then abandon focus. Week to week, as we loosen on weekends and resign ourselves to weekdays. Year to year, as we allow aging to accumulate.
The steadiness, the consistency, allows us to flow through life as we did as children: allowing the rhythms of the world to go on around us, while our inner energy current flows in the direction of our contentment.