Taking In the Good Moment

The first night in my new apartment, I ate thick bean soup with dark bread.

I had no table or chairs, no lamps, no dish towels, bathmat, trashcans, cups, plates. I had, at least, put a jar of apple sauce in the fridge.

I perched on the edge of my bed, using the slim windowsill as an unreliable table. And as I ate, I had a small rush of contentment. This new spot, empty as it was, was filled with what I wanted: independence, afternoon sunlight, caramel wooden floors, proximity to water and people I loved.

But right alongside that contentment came this: A voice yelling, “NO! Don’t kick back. You’ve got to get internet, make sure the radiators aren’t duds. And it’s not like you can’t hear the traffic. You can.”

So easily, contentment can be infested by fear. Not conventional fears of monsters and stage fright, but quieter fears that we’ll be caught off guard if we put our feet up in the afternoon sunlight. And a fear, which is more of a cultural norm, that contentment is indulgent and we should, instead, work more, strive more.

I sank a piece of bread into the soup, pulled it out dripping and heavy, chewed it. Things weren’t perfect in this new spot. But who said things need to be perfect for us to be content?

That fearful voice, it was trying to protect me. Trying to make sure I wasn’t blindsided by a snake in the grass. And that contentment, it was trying to make sure I knew fulfillment in a world dripping and heavy with fear.

It is in these moments when we’re perched on the edge of something that we choose which we’ll turn to, which will shape our memories when we look back on that time.

So, I finished my soup, turned to contentment, and life was peaches and cream thereafter.

No. That didn’t happen. It’s never once happened like that for me.

But if our intent is to really feel contentment, it becomes easier to savor the good, imperfect moment. Even if the only thing in the fridge is a jar of apple sauce.

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