Well, we’re a full week into summer.
We’ve been to the pool more times than I can count already, trashed the house (as if it was possible to be more trashed than it already was—Marlowe declared we would just clean up in August), gone to the Indy 500, eaten hot dogs, gotten our first mosquito bites, stayed up late (but not slept in… why is it impossible to wake them on a school day, but on a summer day they are up with the dawn??), ridden bikes, shot some hoops, attacked the ants that simply won’t relent, had our summer freckles already start to emerge, eaten some s’mores, had a few sleepovers and parties, run shrieking away from wasps and spiders, and gotten our knees bruised and our feet calloused from running around barefoot.
We’ve also been bored. I can’t tell you how many “I’m bored! There’s nothing to do!!!”s I’ve heard in the past week. It drives me crazy, and my impulse reaction is usually to threaten to take away all of their four thousand actual things they could do at that very moment, thank you very much, and remind them how ridiculously lucky they are that they have inside choices and outside choices. Upstairs choices and downstairs choices. That boredom is an UNACCEPTABLE STATE OF BEING!!!!!
But, it occurred to me that “boredom,” from a kids’ point of view, is pretty much the same “discontent” that we as adults feel. We are restless, by human nature. What else, what’s next? What more, what’s different? What’s new, what’s surprising?
We’re twitchy, we humans. Contentment is a slippery devil… alluding us with its ever “if only…” and “what if…” “when I…”s. It’s the grass is greener, it’s the FOMO.
I wrote you last week, twice. Once about the school shooting that came knocking on my hometown’s door, and the other about my deep love of trees. Since then I’ve been trying to practice contentment. Active appreciation for what is right here, right now. Because the “if only…” and “what if” and “when I”s just don’t help us with what’s right in front of us, do they?
I keep coming back to the video I shared with you a year ago, and again since then—Alan Watts talking about how your life is NOT a journey… that you’re meant to sing, or dance, while the music is being played. Or rather, slough off the boredom and discontent, and run head-first into contentment. Run straight toward those things you love, now, and delight in splashing your feet in them.
So the next time I hear the chorus of “I’m bored!!!” ringing through the house, rather than trying to shut it instantly down, I think I would do well to check in with my own discontent and give us all the opportunity to pause and listen to the music being played in our lives… to pay attention to what’s available to us, right now. And to sing, or to dance, with that. Because that is where contentment lies.
What’s right in front of you?