October 3, 2012

on the beauty of the present...

I've been thinking a lot about contentment. I'm not always good at living in the moment. Most days, my heart seems to yearn for either the past or the future.

Now that I have a daughter, I'm in a constant state of longing for the simple days of my own childhood. Back when the world didn't seem so scary or messy or unfair. Back when things were just...uncomplicated. And, in the same way, I find myself constantly looking forward to the next night, the next day, the next weekend, the next season. I think things will be easier when Jay gets home after a long day at work, when I don't have anywhere to go or an incredibly long to-do list that needs tending to, when Eisley finally learns to sleep all night long, when we get a bigger place, when the temperature during the day doesn't make me want to sit in front of the open fridge while lamenting the dreadful state of my sweaty, messy hair.

But I've been doing a lot of thinking about appreciation, too.

Recently, Jay and I seem to have made the silent agreement to stay in our little duplex and not search for a new, bigger place. For the past year, every month or two one of us has unenthusiastically said something to the effect of, "Well, we should probably start looking for a new place, huh?" And the other would nod in agreement, "Yeah. Maybe next weekend we can work on it." Yet, somehow—aside from a handful of Craigslist searches ending in the bitter realization that rent here is entirely too expensive—we haven't once made a real effort to move.

Ideally, we wouldn't be living more than thirty miles from where Jay works. Ideally, we'd be somewhere with two bedrooms, a yard, a driveway, a washer and dryer, and carpet that isn't stained and stretched from years of in-front-of-the-tv dinners—and, more recently, Eisley's many escapades. Ideally, we wouldn't put so much of our income into paying rent, but would be paying a mortgage instead. Ideally, I would have the option of painting our kitchen robins-egg-blue, or planting a small vegetable garden to the side of our house.

But here we are. And here we stay. And I think we've both realized that it's suiting us just fine.

The other day I started really thinking about what it would feel like to move from here. Packing up the items in our kitchen cabinets, our incredibly messy front closet, the corners of my crafting nook. Taking frames off the wall that haven't been touched (aside from the sporadic dusting) in more than four years. Taking one last look at places that hold so many memories of good things and life-changing moments. Saying goodbye to the first place that has ever really felt like home since leaving the house I grew up in.

I'll miss the neighborhood we live in, too. I'll miss our friendly little post office and the grocery store I frequent, where the people actually remember me and my daughter, and give the illusion of living in a town much smaller than I actually do. I won't miss the constant noisiness of the traffic, but I'll certainly miss afternoon strolls through the quiet, residential streets close to our duplex. I like the little used bookstores I've discovered, and the fact that I am only a (fairly intense, but delightful) bike ride away from the beach. There are moments, like when Jay and I are making breakfast together on the weekend, or when I'm sitting by myself in the quiet of the evening after everyone else has gone to bed, when I realize that I love it here. Those are the moments I'm not so bothered by the things we don't have or the things that sometimes seem like such a big deal.

Maybe I'm just not ready yet. And I keep thinking that perhaps it's a good thing that we're staying here just a bit longer. Neither of us wants to go through the joys (or struggles, rather) of packing up our place and moving somewhere new. We've grown comfortable here, and I know that we both are holding out hope that the next place we make our own will truly be our own. And not just some place we're settling for.

So, if only for the moment, I guess I'm just trying to focus on enjoying all the little things I'll miss about this place when we do finally say goodbye.

9 comments :

  1. I constantly have that feeling of longing for the past or looking forward to the future. It is just so difficult to appreciate the now. I'm glad you are starting to be able to do just that :)

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  2. I've been reading your blog for ages but this is the first time I have ever commented. This is such a great post. We too live in a teeny tiny flat and we keep going back on forth about finding a bigger place. This just made me realise how much I would miss if we were to move. Thank you for the perspective:)

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  3. Great truthful post and thank you for sharing!

    I, too, haven't really commented here before, but this post is so aligned with some of my own feelings and a recent email that my cousin just sent to me, with a link attached to a sermon that was given at her church titled: "Don't Compare One Another"
    http://www.eaglebrookchurch.com/pages/page.asp?page_id=168220&programId=132787

    It was 30 minutes to watch and i have to admit...once i started, i couldn't stop and there were such simple points that tugged at my heart in ways i needed tugging. it was pretty encouraging and great knowing that others struggle with the balance of comparison and contentment, etc. If you get some time, you should check it out...it may confirm your genuine heart's feelings. :)

    One of the greatest quotes i took from the whole sermon that still sits with me each day was this, "comparison kills contentment."

    I'm not implying that is what you are doing. But once you hear the message...you'll understand, we each have our own ways of doing it to ourselves, and many times it's even comparing to how we once looked or did things, etc. Pretty great ah-ha moment for me.

    Hang in there, thanks for sharing your heart and know there are others out there seeking for the contentment/appreciation point with ya....just in their own authentic way! :)

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  4. I definitely know and share this feeling. Andy and I live in the smallest, most humble, least posh place of all our friends -- and sometimes that's hard. Not because I want their lives or their houses or their things -- but just because it makes me feel... out of place. And then I start to question why, and what if, and those are dangerous roads to go down when it comes to comparisons.

    Anyway, millions of people all around the world live in apartments (or huts, or multigenerational homes where 7 people share 1 bathroom) so there's a perspective thing to mull over as well.

    As your post illustrates, what matters is how we inhabit these spaces, not their square footage or market value.

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  5. I can totally relate. I feel this way every day. And it makes it hard when all of our friends have beautiful homes and seem to have their lives together, when I constantly feel like I'm waiting for ours to start. I try to remind myself daily that this IS my life. Enjoy it now and be grateful for what we have. In comparison to a majority of the world, we are well off and very very fortunate. I struggle with wanting MORE...but then there will always be something after that. Thank you for the honest post. I've been having a difficult time lately with the same issues, its good to know I'm not alone!

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  6. It's okay to look forward to the future, but its also nice to be happy and content where you are in the present. I look back on the days when my husband and I lived in a tiny apartment on the edge of my college campus and I smile. We didn't have much (money or space!) but we made it work and had great memories. Its a good thing to stop and enjoy what you have when you have it because then you'll realize that its not the THINGS you have that are making you happy. :)

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  7. It's really special and wonderful that you can see the lovely things about your current life. You'll never forget this time when you finally move into your house! ;)

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  8. Beautiful, Kerri! One of my biggest flaws is not living in the present. I focus too much on the future and it's something I've really struggled with but fortunately, I've improved. At some point, I realized that things weren't going to 100% ideal, ever, and I let myself really enjoy the goodness around me a little more. I know exactly what you mean about the small-town feel being comforting. I am so appreciative of a friendly cashier who always asks me about the state of the weather outside and the barista who remembers my name and that I like an extra shot of maple cinnamon syrup in my latte.

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