Letter # 3: Wrestling Contentment

Dear Kaye,

Do you want a dog?  I have a very cute one, with charming manners even though she lacks most common ones.  I cannot tell you how many expletives I have whispered under my breath as I try and keep up with her clipped stride, while my neanderthalian boots slip and slide on black ice.

HAH.  I am now thanking my stars that I did not grow up in the same sandbox as you.  I hope your sandbox etiquette has grown more sensitive and refined since then.  Don’t want to end up at the ER because a few choice letters accidentally flew into my eye.  Of all the letters of the alphabet, I’d assume “k” would be the worst to try and get out of one’s eye.  Too many pokey-bits.

Oh Jonah days.   (…The memory of all of those Anne books gives such a weight to that expression that I only use it when I mean it.)  I’m having one today.  Today I am feeling like all communication with myself is done over a crappy phone or internet connection.  “Hullo?  Yes, this is I.  Just popping in for a moment to remind you to breathe.  What?  Oh, I said breathe.  No, not grieve, breathe.  No no no, don’t start crying – it’s all right, there there.  What?  I can’t hear you, you’re cutting out.  Maybe just go get some tea and rest a bit.  No, I didn’t say that you were out of it. . .”  You get the gist.  The only way I’ve been able to deal with it lately is to imagine (and this is going to sound ludicrous) that my younger self works alongside me.  . . . Well, not my younger self, but the part of me that can dream without censure, the part of me that was built through years of the encouraging influence of truly good stories, the part of me that doesn’t care so much about the end result as it does about doing the work because it is fun and that is why we were attracted to it in the first place.  The one that is honest-to-God content.  I want to learn from that person…or rather, I want to learn contentment.  G.K. Chesterton said in his essay, The Contented Man, that, “True contentment is a thing as active as agriculture. It is the power of getting out of any situation all that there is in it. It is arduous and it is rare.” . . . I have found that, on a daily basis, learning contentment is more like doing squats.  In any case I shall draw your attention to the fifth paragraph of the essay, since, along with the tenth paragraph (which I think echoes our sentiments about a certain *ahem* subject quite well). . . and since I’m nice I’ll put it in quotations here:

“Content” ought to mean in English, as it does in French, being pleased; placidly, perhaps, but still positively pleased. Being contented with bread and cheese ought not to mean not caring what you eat. It ought to mean caring for bread and cheese; handling and enjoying the cubic content of the bread and cheese and adding it to your own. Being content with an attic ought not to mean being unable to move from it and resigned to living in it. It ought to mean appreciating what there is to appreciate in such a position; such as the quaint and elvish slope of the ceiling or the sublime aerial view of the opposite chimney-pots. And in this sense contentment is a real and even an active virtue; it is not only affirmative, but creative. The poet in the attic does not forget the attic in poetic musings; he remembers whatever the attic has of poetry; he realises how high, how starry, how cool, how unadorned and simple – in short, how Attic is the attic.”

– G.K. Chesterton

I’d like to be that kind of content.  It is a daily struggle, but I think it is an admirable goal – certainly a better path than constantly lusting after what has not yet arrived in life.  In any case, I’m beginning to sound like a preacher and I can’t very well figure out how to end my sermon, so it is on to the list of favorites/not favorites.

Touch:  There is this pen that I got from the dentists, and it is the best ballpoint pen I’ve ever used.  It is amazing.

Sight:  Socially Awkward Poe.  . . .I’ll just. . . leave this here.

Taste: P.B. & J.  I’ve discovered that the combination makes no sense to me without milk.  It is the midtone that unites the shadows and lights.

Smell: . . .Dinnah.

Hearing:  Classical music mostly today.  Now it is Autumn by Vivaldi.

Reading: The Fox Sister webcomic.  Awesome stuff.


P.S.  Good grief is the memory of that still fresh in your mind?