You learn so many things in this little life. You learn the difference between inconvenience and inconvenience. You learn that having a splinter during a piano recital is not as big of a deal as having to throw away broken crayons while your five year old watches. You learn that having a child that literally can not stop asking questions is not as bad as that same child asking those questions in public.
You learn to cope with inconvenience, prioritize, come up with a game plan. You learn to deal with the stress, some days with a little more ease than others. You learn that life happens even when we are closed down in our own worlds; and you learn that finding that moment is as impossible as flying over the mirrored lake.
This week I have been over-thinking the concept of contentment and in some ways happiness. I have spent days now allowing the image of happiness to warm me and the knowledge that my contentment is an illusion that I play on myself. This week I have determined that I have no knowledge of contentment because I have never felt contentment.
This of course leads to about a thousand other questions that I will allow your own brain to travel to. It becomes a cycle, this over-thinking of one topic – until you end up at the exact same place you started – nowhere. You can imagine what contentment is, you can read the words of the greatest writers of all time, and/or you can simply ask those around you and yet, you end up where you started.
These kinds of questions are supposed to be good for the soul. I find them inconvenient. I read a quote once that said that even God wanted us to question everything, he didn’t design us any other way. Not being a devout anything, I always figured this was just an excuse or even permission to do what I have always done; question.
Most of my questions, at least at this level – and we are talking maestro level here – come from an outside source. The questions and the ideas are not born within me but rather slowly become a part of me as time passes. They are the questions that monks are charged with answering as they grow to be the most spiritual of men. They are the questions that geniuses have used to begin to explain the mathematical wonders of this universe. They are the questions that most people avoid, because recognizing the truth – that you don’t know and may never know – upsets the soccer mom image that we all seem to think we should obtain.
I am not here today to write about contentment or the lack of it in my life. Instead I have a burning desire to talk about inconvenience. It is possible that the two are linked in someway in my life, but I prefer to think that one is simply a product of the other. The exhausting search to understand contentment in my life has led to great inconvenience.
I am a person who often thrives on major upheavals. Don’t be fooled, once that upheaval is done I retreat so far into my shell it’s amazing anyone is convinced that I am breathing. But I handle life’s troubles especially when they don’t have a lot to do with my mental state. Need to move quickly – I can pack fast. Need a new couch – I can get it at a discount. Need to find the time for your own self – let me leave and do another errand. You’re broken, I got glue.
This morning I woke up in much the same way I always do – I slowly, creepily wake up and then lay in the bed for as long as my life will allow me to. It’s a process, its my process. The moment I touch my feet onto the floor however, all bets are off. The questions come, the answers are needed, and the person that I don for the day is woken.
This morning when I woke up, as I always do, I realized that this question of contentment was taking much more of my time than most anything else. I realized that I was thinking, feeling my way through this morass of an idea that I know very little about to the exclusion of most other thoughts. And being the person who has about ten thousand thoughts consistently running through her head – in multiple voices – we are saying something.
I can’t get out of my head the idea that not only am I not content, I don’t know how to become content. I don’t know the end of journey any more than I know the beginning of the journey. I am sitting here, feeling my way in the dark, and yet my feet aren’t moving to any acceptable understanding. And it is inconvenient.
So today, I did the one thing I know how to do; I started a new book. And this book is about – wait for it – finding contentment, understanding happiness. I had written another book earlier about a character who had to learn to see the beauty in life, and I have decided to resurrect her (in a different way) and allow her to lead me to some answer.
Often this is my best writing. When I don’t know where the characters are going, the stories they will tell, or even where the book will take place I am allowed to map the next scene much like you would a diagram. The main character asks a question, there is some workable solution if not answer that leads directly to the next question. And so on.
The goal being that at the end of the book even if I don’t have the answer I was looking for, I can finally admit that I have explored the question more thoroughly than I did my child’s hair because of a lice outbreak. That is what my books are like; no ending at the beginning. No answers before all the questions are asked, and no knowledge of who will be asking those questions until all others are accounted for.
But it is inconvenient when I decide to do this. For instance, I wrote close to two thousand words today (not counting this blog). I got a good start on the book and will continue tomorrow. But there are things I won’t be doing because of this need: I won’t be running errands – like finding my mother a present – or exercising or cleaning or doing the laundry.
It is all inconvenient. And what is almost worse is because I don’t have time to myself, because I don’t have a space that is actually mine, the work that I do is inconvenient to those I love as well. My all-consuming need to write down a problem until I find the answer takes me away from my child’s questions. It takes me away from the packing and the gathering I am supposed to do for this move. It takes me away from the person I try very hard to be – somewhat normal, put-together, and even though my children don’t play soccer, someone that looks close to it.
I will continue the journey, simply because I don’t have any other choice. I will continue to write two to three thousand words a day and then another thousand here on some new topic. I will do it because I have to. I will do it because I am compelled to. I will do it despite the inconvenience. Because sometimes the question is much more important than the life you are only pretending to lead.