Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Learning Contentment

The Missus brought me a beautiful leather bound journal/planner type of thing a few years ago and I sort of used and then just stopped, because I have a weird thing about writing long hand on wide ruled paper. (I'm a college ruled notebook kind of guy.) But at the beginning of the month, I decided to start using it as a journal on a daily basis. I've been listening to the Tim Ferris Show for awhile now and I seem to have landed on a Benjamin Hardy email list as well and the one thing that keeps popping up again and again is that successful people always seem to do some writing in the morning to start their day.

So, I figured, why not me? (I should note, just at the outset, that this isn't a 'Dear Diary' situation- though the Missus was quick to give some shit about that.) Every day, I write down some writing goals for the day, three things that I'm thankful for, and other, non-writing things I need to do that day. And...  you know what, I'll have to check with the Missus, but I certainly feel like it's helped me to focus more. I feel more organized, which is certainly a relatively new phenomenon for me. But it's also done something else that I wasn't expecting: it's helping me to practice contentment.

I don't think I really believed I was young any more, but at 34 you sort of run out of room to pretend. 33? 32? 31? Ah, that's not that old- but 34 felt really and truly like you're stuck. You're a grown-up. Adulthood has taken hold and you've got to be responsible and boring and shit. I find myself caring more about the state of my lawn. (There's going to be some turf building going on, because my lawn sucks.) The DLs at work creep closer and closer to the dreaded 2000s with every passing year. (I'm starting to see 1998s and 1999s now... ugh.) Time is moving on, whether you like it or not.

But it's also teaching me to look around and really appreciate what I have. I've been prone to outbreaks of itchiness a couple of times a year for the past few years. I convince myself that there has to be something better out there- that I should be further along in some kind of weird, pre-set career path that it's my head somewhere. Our generation is fucked up for a lot of reasons, but the sort of pernicious idea that you have to make an impact and change the world is an idea that takes some shaking to get rid of- but finally, I think it's coming loose. (This column is kind of amazing, actually.)

Do I want do this forever? The best answer right now that I can come up with is 'probably not.' (An increasing number of ex-employees that I've known over the years always seem to be able to stop taking a variety of medications once they leave here- which I think is a good barometer. If I need medication to come to work, it's time for a new job.) I'm open to the possibilities right now- let's just say that. And I don't want to be so obsessed in my quest for 'the next thing' or 'the next chapter' that I lose sight of the amazing life I seemed to have tripped and fallen into that's right in front of me. These kids! The Missus! Our House! It's all an incredible blessing and I want to learn how to appreciate that more and be content with it. I'm sure at some point, there will be an offer or a job out there that I'll have to take. Someone will make me offer I can't refuse. Maybe it's be next month, maybe it'll be next year- who knows. But for today, right now...  this is fine. (I somehow landed a phone interview with the State Patrol last month and after ten minutes, I came to the conclusion that there are worse jobs than mine out there.)

I find myself increasingly liking this new 12 hour schedule. I feel more focused and plugged in at work and more present and available when I'm not here. I think that's helping as well- assuming that I can keep at this and really make it become part of my daily routine, I have no idea where it will take me. Could be that I just have more focused, productive days and therefore a more focused productive life. Or it could help me take those idle dreams and plans of mine, put them to paper and turn them into goals that are achievable and realistic.

Either way, as I turn 34 I feel like shifting my focus away from the constant search for something better and learning to be more present in the life that I have is something that I'm finding to be an incredibly enjoyable process. I think it's about learning to be content with what we have while really thinking and planning and putting my life down to paper. Whether this is a phase or something more, I don't yet know. For now though, I'm going with it- we'll see where, if anywhere it takes me.

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