Sunday, July 26, 2009

Before content there was contentment

Before content was king, before the web was a giant vessel waiting to be filled, before advertising. . . content described a state of satisfaction.

We often say we wish that we were more content, more capable of being satisfied or happy. Sometimes we mean it. We mean that we are tired of chasing things that don't satisfy us while we are chasing them or even when we catch them. We mean that we are tired of trying harder and reaching farther. Sometimes we wish we could slow down and simply be. . . content.

We are the content of our lives, but we are seldom content. Into each life a little hope does fall, an intimation that something better, brighter, more satisfying is just out of reach. Because we reach for that something hoped-for, we reach beyond the boundaries of what is true today. We push the envelope - at least a little.

Paradoxically, we push it hardest when the hoped-for situation, the thing just beyond our reach, is contentment. When we feel closest to achieving a status quo that would satisfy us, then we work with passion and with energy and with imagination to make it real.

We hope. Then we do. Then we test. Then, when we fall short, we decide whether to hope again.

For those of you who, like me, love the sound and the flow and the shape of words, I am attaching a poem. It says that the poet has done all his best work because he hoped that he could explain himself to the woman he loves. If she had understood, he would not have needed to write.

Find the place where you want most to succeed and see how much stronger/wiser/more creative you have become because you could not be content.

"Words"
By William Butler Yeats
I had this thought a while ago,
"My darling cannot understand
What I have done, or what would do
In this blind bitter land."
And I grew weary of the sun
Until my thoughts cleared up again,
Remembering that the best I have done
Was done to make it plain;
That every year I have cried, "At length
My darling understands it all,
Because I have come into my strength,
And words obey my call;"
That had she done so who can say
What would have shaken from the sieve?
I might have thrown poor words away
And been content to live.

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