A Saturated Life
I specifically remember parts of preschool. I remember playing on the playground, thinking the gravel by the jungle gym hurt my bare feet. I remember being told I had to retry writing my o’s because they weren’t circular enough. I remember thinking I couldn’t wait to be in kindergarten.
I remember kindergarten, too. I was the best reader. I was the slowest at coloring and cutting. My teacher’s name was Ms. Bachelor. I always thought it was Ms. Spatula. I remember my impatience for first grade.
I always wanted to move on to the next. In grade school I wanted high school. After freshman year I wanted college. A couple years into college I wanted a career. A few months into my new career I’m lost.
What’s next? Retirement? Marriage? A family? While I’ve always wanted to move up in education and work, I don’t feel the same drive for an advancing personal life. I dreamed of it some, and still think about it and get random cravings for new friendships or relationships, but it’s just not the same. It’s not as vertical. There doesn’t seem to be a “step up.” There are just a lot of options and I’m not in a huge rush to commit to any of them right now. If it’s right, it’ll be right. Right?
After college I moved almost a thousand miles from home. It was tough sometimes, but what I didn’t realize was that I was becoming addicted to escape. I tell everyone I went because it was the best option career-wise when I graduated. I think I meant it, but I don’t think I was being totally honest. I wanted to leave all the expectations I had for myself and others had for me and knew the best way to do it was with lots of miles between me and the pressures.
I ran north. For months I worked a job I knew I was great at, lived alone, and had enough friendships to make sure I wasn’t totally isolated without breeding anything deep enough to create those expectations I ran from in the first place. As I write it out it all sounds like I was creating some kind of superficial life for myself, and I guess I was. And you know what? I loved it.
For the first time in a long time I had absolutely no one to answer to but myself and I was completely content. I’m no psychologist, but I’d argue I had nearly hit the self actualization portion of Maslow’s hierarchy. I learned how to embrace the present and really love every second. I call it living a saturated life. Every moment is saturated with awareness and importance and contentment with where I am at that moment.
Very yoga-y. But very sincere. It’s one of the best feelings I’ve ever experienced.
I got bored, though. I started craving that vertical climb again and it eventually drove me to come back close to home to work in a much more competitive market with a much more complex population. I loved my work and loved my dreams of the work I want to do and was convinced I could take my new saturated lifestyle with me in my climb. And I did for a while.
What I’m learning is that I’m still really new with the content way of being. Like a baby learning to walk. Maybe she can do it for a few steps on a flat surface with a parent sitting close by to catch her, but throw in loud noises, dogs running by, and a toy begging for attention and she’s bound to fall.
I could probably come up with a more intellectual comparison but I don’t want to. So.
I’m just easily distracted by life lately. I’ve let too many things pull my attention and emotions too many ways and I’ve lost my center of balance. I’m getting upset at work, working myself up over hypotheticals in my personal relationships, and magnifying expectations of everyone around me. By doing this I’m holding other people too responsible for my emotional state, be it happiness or frustration. It’s not fair to them. It’s not fair to me.
Today I was suddenly thrown back into balance. There was no aha moment, no important words of wisdom from a stranger. I just remembered I have a choice every second to be at peace or not. I am privileged enough to not have to constantly worry about my finances or my physical safety or my relationships. I’m selfish and self-important enough to do it all the time anyway.
I have a choice because I am free in more ways than I know to appreciate. For the first time in a long time I’m remembering that. I’m remembering the contentment. I’m living in saturated moments.