Lately, I have been learning to practice the art of finding contentment in the present. As I have described in previous posts, I have been putting much effort into being kinder to myself, listening to myself, and learning to love myself again. In doing so, I have realized that I have been spending far too much time worrying constantly about everything that is wrong with my life: I am unemployed, I don't have a place of my own, and I am living with my parents again (still). I have no close friends nearby, and my closest friendship is faltering. I have spent the last five years of my life getting a university degree in a field that I now have little interest in. I see people I love getting their lives on track and doing things that they enjoy, and instead of feeling happy for them, all I can feel is resentment, jealousy, and even anger. And then I become angry at myself for feeling that way.
And then I walk outside, and feel the breeze on my skin. Or I sit and practice meditation, learning to calm and slow my breath, moving past the endless worries of today. And always, always, something happens to remind me to focus on the present.
A few weeks ago I started making a list of all of the birds that we have seen from our property. We were all amazed to discover that the list numbered nearly fifty different species. Then the other day I casually remarked to my parents that one bird that we had not yet seen on our property was the Lazuli Bunting, an attractive songbird with blue, orange, and white plumage. We saw it once at our backyard pond when we lived in the country, but we had never seen it at our place in town. The very next day I was in my room, beginning my daily practice of exercise and meditation. I folded my hands in front of my chest for the sun salutations, and breathed deeply. As I practice, I always face so that I can look out the window. As I did so that day, a spot of blue near the bird feeder caught my eye. I raced upstairs to let everyone know, and as we all gathered in front of the window, we discovered that it was not one, but three male Lazuli Buntings - and an excellent example of synchronicity considering that I had just mentioned the bird the day before.
And it was more than that. It was a reminder to stay focused on the present, and not become so obsessed with the past and the future that I lose sight of what is right before my eyes. If I had been worrying as usual that morning, turned inward and seeing nothing, I likely would have missed the birds. But since it was a moment when I was consciously trying to let go of my worries and focus on the present, I was open to receiving that unexpected gift of synchronicity.
Learning to find contentment in the present means focusing on what I have in my life rather than on what I don't have. Things will never be perfect. Things will never be complete. Just when we reach one goal, then we realize that there is something else that we want as well. Always wanting means that we will never be satisfied. Always thinking about how things will be better in the future means that we will never find contentment. The solution is simply to let go of wanting and to find contentment with what we have now.
Right now, I am alive and in good physical health. I have sufficient food to eat, a warm and dry place to sleep, clean water to drink, and clean air to breathe. I live in one of the most beautiful places in the world with nature all around me, in a quiet small town, in a peaceful country. I have lots of time right now to focus on developing my writing career, honing my writing skills, and practicing writing daily - a practice that I will carry with me even when (if) I find a "real" job. I have amicable relationships with both of my parents, and they continue to love and support me. I am learning to be more kind to myself, and to find love and forgiveness for both myself and others. I am developing my spirituality, I am meditating and exercising every day, and I am taking time to spend outside in nature. When I start to look at what I actually do have in my life right now, things don't look so bad.
And I'm not worrying quite as much. I don't feel quite as in despair about my life. I find it easier to have faith that things will work out. Perhaps by focusing more on the present, I will be more open to receiving any small changes that may occur. Perhaps I will see opportunities that I may have missed before. I still have no idea what the future will bring, but do you know what? It's not looking that bad either.