The ducks look sad. Not ‘hey has anyone seen Dudley?’ Sad, but sad nonetheless. Almost Seasonal Affective Disorder S.A.D. Maybe I’m projecting. Maybe I feel guilty about my two week trip to India, then the severe cold snap that led to two things. 1. I requested both perfume and insulated Carhart Bibs for Christmas 2. I did not dote on the ducks twice a day as per my usual. So Maybe I’m projecting and worrying over a non-existent problem. So sue me. I might be inventing things to worry about.
After 37 years, at least 36.25 of which I am sure I spent with worries, guilt, concerns and regrets, I might NEED to worry. Maybe that constant niggling in the back, middle and often front of my mind is like moving through water for a shark. It reminds me to breathe. This is sounding neurotic and negative. Let’s look at it head on. It just hit me like a piano dropped from a 7th story window. Content. Contentment. Contented. Foreign, yet somehow fitting.
Like 25 year old jeans, packed, forgotten, refound, tried on, cast aside, and now cue slow motion turn in full length mirror… Perfect FIT! I kept dragging those old Levis around, soft, worn in, but never quite the right fit. At times I thought they fit. Strutting around with youthful narcissism. Cut short suddenly when I would catch sight of my psychic bootie in a plate glass shop window. Wait a minute, that doesn’t fit at all. Damn.
Contentment is a constant, like weather. It’s always happening somewhere. Birth, miscarriages, cancer, self doubt, the false walls of cheaply attained self esteem, love, real love, friendship, false friendship, the slow building of self all mixing into the psychic stew. No amount of seasoning can turn poorly acquired and ill treated ingredients into the culinary masterpiece known as happiness.
Like a packing list for a journey I grabbed those old jeans, the farm, husband, beloved child, career, regrets and longings, first garden, words read and retained, coffee on autumn mornings, dogs, dogs and more dogs and kept piling them in my bag. I arrived, unpacked and realized they don’t add up to contentment. It was more of a still life. All the parts were there, just not the life. I had been counting up the items, the ticked boxes on my life to do list.
So I passed a mirror, in jeans I love. I dress them up for parties, let the saltwater cool the cuffs at the beach, love them over my bare feet on summer nights. For the first time I didn’t see the jeans. I lost myself for a moment. Fell into the contentment. Was so surprised by where I was it was like I woke up in a foreign place. At the center was the mast of this storm tossed ship, steady, strong and always there, my husband. The sun rose in my son’s eyes and my heart beat for the first time. I came home to my dad’s laughter. The fiber holding us was that of friendship, soft and strong and beautiful if you just looked. Around me sustenance sprang from my sweat, good fortune, and this love of life. The light shining on all of it, the mirror showing me what so obviously was always there was my awareness. My thanks to the universe, the accident of my birth, my purpose in this life reflected my happiness back to me like sunlight on the snow.
So tonight in the duck yard I sprinkled apple slices and bread. I talked softly to my curious feathered friends. I wonder if I can sew them some tiny little jeans so they might catch their reflection in the pond and maybe see their own contentment written there.