Yesterday I walked around carrying a secret smile, feeling content and happy as I rode to and from work and contemplating an evening with old friends who are in town from back home, and my girls. As I rode on the subway to meet everyone at our friends’ hotel, I got thinking about the idea of contentment, and how it relates to “happy.” Does the presence of the former always result in the latter? Because goodness knows “content” isn’t a term I’d use to describe myself; I’ve never been particularly content. But I have been happy for substantial chunks of my life.
Leaving my hometown and coming to this city was a product of that perpetual discontentment, but leaving behind certain people and certain familiarities was the painful part of that decision. Leaving was something I had to do in striving for my own happiness, but it didn’t come without consequence, psychologically and financially. But as I have been reminded each time I return there, the love of my people remains steadfast, and maybe that has, in its gentle way, helped me to find my ground here. I still get asked if I will come home, but they all understand why I am here.
They know that in some ways, DIScontentment makes me happy. I have this fear of becoming stagnant; of living a life of never changing, never growing. I don’t suppose all the moving around I’ve done is necessarily akin to growth and change – I know many people who have lived in a place all their lives and have evolved and grown in all kinds of beautiful ways. But there is this constant yearning to “move on” within, and maybe my physical moving around is a misguided manifestation of that. Happiness is often associated as the end product of the striving – when we all know it’s the striving itself that really causes happiness; the small, sometimes methodical steps; the actions.
Last year, in an attempt to live the notion that ‘happiness is the journey not the destination’ I turfed the quest of finding “home” in this new city and left it up to “home” to find me. I had some journeying to do in the meantime. It was the right decision. I still consider my current home as a “temporary place to hang my hat” but it doesn’t matter anymore. The discontentment has been sent back to where it belongs – in my mind – no longer directed at the walls and streets around me.
Maybe my feeling of contentment yesterday was because the “twain met.” The comfort of the love and history and fellowship from back home lived together in the realm of the discontented soul, gently tugging it back from the journey for a bit of a breather.
And I was still wearing that secret smile when I walked home at the end of the evening and went to bed.
Saturday morning I had a hard time waking up – it was like my dream state had taken over, and wasn't about to let me achieve wakefulness until the dreaming had carried out its course. I dreamed that I had a new home – a cavernous place with long winding hallways and secret rooms, some yet undiscovered. When I was first looking around this place I didn't seem to be aware, or had forgotten it was mine – until I noticed a few of my things (from real life) on the shelves in in the kitchen. Those who had helped me get there were now gone and I was alone.
"Oh ya! This is my home!" and I danced like a fool around the hallways, finding forgotten corners and undiscovered rooms.
It was one of those emotionally satisfying dreams, that kind that makes you reluctant to wake up. When I finally did and was moving about to make coffee and get dressed, I hung on to the vividness of the images and emotions for awhile.
It didn't occur to me until yesterday to look up the symbolism of "home" or "house" in a dream. It most often represents "the self."
This was really good news in my mind; I'm thinking that some efforts I've been making to make some internal changes – not those traditional "New Years" resolution type changes – but those related to self perception, and self expression, and relating, and welcoming. Having this dream doesn't necessarily mean I've accomplished these things – but it indicates to me that my subconsciousness is ready for it – is, perhaps, already there and setting up a new house.
The other day my friend Lynn posed the question to her facebook people: “what one word describes your 2010?” My experience in expressive arts tells me that the only way to answer such a question is to answer it quickly. If you respond quickly and think about it later, you can open the door to some unexpected personal insight.
I answered with “New.”
I think it was a good word. In 2010 I changed strategies in a number of realms. Early in the year I re-vamped my blog and moved it to a platform that I think better reflects the spirit behind the writing. In turn, I started photographing more and began to pull together some shots that have further captured the theme I’m going for. I spent a good part of last winter documenting my ideas of “beauty” and the sources of it around me in my daily travels. I was rewarded, again, to find how one step leads to another – and these steps led me straight out of a funk – personal as well as creative.
Later in the year it occurred to me to stop looking for “home” and just to live in a fun spot and let home come to me. I get all over my writing students for resorting to clichés, but it’s a lesson I seem to learn over and over again: get out of the past and the future and get living in the moment. THAT’s when the change happens – not when I'm thinking about it, mourning it, planning it, hoping for it, wishing for it.
Still later in the year, pretty recently, I decided to revamp me. I vowed I would try more, trust more, BE more and stay devoted to reflecting the authentic me. I carried that focus on authenticity around with me as I shopped, in the books I chose, friends I found, and in the ways I approached my jobs and free time endeavours. I knew that the most important part of this personal revamp was to drop some walls – particularly because it also included the return to the pursuit of romantic love. I explored the opening of some chakras and worked at smiling at strangers more often and (sorry another cliché) being the change I want to see. Again with the small steps leading me in directions I never imagined.
So the end of the year arrived, and some wonderful surprises have presented themselves. For different reasons, I’m not writing about them yet. But I can say that I have more than one reason to step forward into 2011 anticipating much more NEW. And I’m filled with optimism and hope that some kind of ball is rolling and that you’ll join me in its path.
It’s day one of a new year. I don't know what the word will be for 2011 – but it doesn't matter. I'm sticking in the now and rolling with the rhythms. I do know that I'm really glad you're here to discover it all along with me.
“There’s no secret to balance. You just have to feel the waves”
~ Frank Herbert
I've had a couple of conversations with people lately about a yearning I'm feeling this summer – that some sort of change is wanting in me. I'm not exactly sure what that is, I need to get with a journal and paints and do some serious reflection about what the hell it is that I want.
I've been here before – and it was summer then too. Maybe it's just a desire to hang on to the summer, or to engender in me the feeling of peace and "slowing down" that comes with it. It's summer, but there's peace missing.
Something's off balance. It's not a particulary bad feeling – if one weren't up for changing or growing or enhancing, life would seem pretty dead-end, wouldn't it? Or maybe that's just the ever restless me. I don't feel balanced unless I'm moving, otherwise some sort of vertigo sets in.
Face forward, that's my strategy. If you're always looking down you might miss the signs.
"Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving."