Friday, June 06, 2008

Outside With Chloe

I am typing these thoughts from home before going to work. Most of my evening was spent with my granddaughter, Chloe. My daughter in law needed some Mommy time so my wife and I picked up Chloe at the day care. By the time she left our house I was too tired and brain dead to write. It takes a lot of energy to live life on the level of a child. When she was here we ate spaghetti and meatballs, dunked Oreos into a glass of milk, and spent time outdoors on a nature walk. We talked about ants, chased a few birds, watched some bees in the clover, and picked wild strawberries. We also talked a lot about poop. It was great to see her since we hadn't had any time together since our vacation. The Chloe Experience will continue this weekend. We will be officially celebrating her father's 30th birthday and then she will spend the night. Chloe will celebrate her own birthday in exactly one month. She will be four years old.

During our recent family vacation we ate dinner one night at a restaurant called the Smoky Mountain Brewery. Sometime during the meal my wife dropped a French fry on the floor. Chloe looked at her and said, "Memo, we don't feed the floor"!

What is contentment? Most of us are not overjoyed with every aspect of our lives so we at least hope for contentment. Sometimes I am joyful, occasionally I am happy, but often I simply feel content. But what does that mean? I hope that contentment is more than simple resignation or acceptance of what is. Contentment is surely more than a "whatever" attitude about life. I don't want to just settle for what life has given me. I want my contentment to be wrapped in gratitude. Perhaps contentment is the mature acceptance that life is sometimes joyful, sometimes happy, and occasionally sad. No one is happy all the time although some seem to always live with a joyful spirit even when life is hard. Even joyful people who are often happy cannot escape the occasional sadness of life. Perhaps we are content when we live with an attitude of acceptance for whatever life brings us each day. Perhaps contentment is understanding that some days are better than others but all days, even ones filled with sadness, are a gift. Contentment can also be the acceptance that whatever you have is enough. Contentment may be the absence of obsessive longing for more than you need. Most of my life has been good in the sense that my legitimate needs have been met and many of my desires have been met as well. All in all, life is good.

What is contentment to you? What is happiness? What is joy?

Before enlightenment,I chopped wood and carried water. After enlightenment,I chopped wood and carried water.
-Zen saying

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