“Until you give up the idea that happiness is somewhere else, it will never be where you are.”
The typewriter font of the meme caught my attention, and the words made me dive into my heart a bit: “Beware of destination addiction—the idea that happiness is in the next place, the next job, or even with the next partner. Until you give up the idea that happiness is somewhere else, it will never be where you are.”
Beyond the early nursling days for humans, life seems like a straight shot cannon of growth and expectations for which we continuously navigate how close—or how far away—we are from the acceptable trajectory. First, it starts from the outside looking in on us with our first steps, our first words, our grades, our participation in extracurricular activities, our test scores, our college acceptance letters, our first jobs and on and on. At some point, we take it on internally, judging our self-worth based on our ambition—or lack of—and notable tracks of successes or, egads, failures. We are always looking forward and ahead—where do you see yourself in five years, anyway?
My 2-year-old grand baby, the ever-precious Love Nugget, and I were adventuring toward the plum tree in my back yard during a “work from home day” this fall when a grasshopper sprang up between us. Fortunately, she had her big yellow plastic magnifying glass with an observation tube as the handle, in her hand. Love Nugget gasped and the game of chase was on. There were plums waiting to be devoured within my short break from work, but I had to procure “the bug!” for her delight. After a short and fierce battle—it turns out that the hopping ambition of a grasshopper can be positively affected by the presence of curious dogs and squealing toddlers—I secured it, safely and with all limbs intact, minus one, in the observation tube. I was ready to carry on, but Love Nugget plopped down in the grass to observe the maniacal creature. For a time countable in minutes, which felt countable in hours—and while my happiness hung high on the branches of the plum tree and then back in the house at my computer—we sat with Mr. Hop and watched him use his speck of a brain to unsuccessfully find an escape route. I watched her, watching him. It was beautiful to witness. To feel stopped in time while it was still passing, and feel perfectly happy and content and at peace. To experience a complete lack of ambition to move out of that space.
We can get caught up in the noise of progression and expectation; I can get stuck in a muddy space of feeling restless for something more or different—greener grasses, more successes, fatter bank accounts, fresher love, more joy, increased happiness. I understand the brilliant nature of this inclination provides the driving force to continue propelling each of us, and humankind in general, forward and upward. But when are we truly content from within?
I have spent a lot of time trying to carve into my core, hoping to whittle myself down to something simpler, something easier to understand … a more navigable interpersonal terrain. But, alas, it all remains fairly firm to the emotional touch and I seem full of resolve to continue climbing up and forward. And as much as I wanted to fight it because I am happy from within, that meme spun me into contemplation. “Until you give up the idea that happiness is somewhere else, it will never be where you are.” Am I victim of incessant wanting for something different than what is present in my life? Must I always wonder at what point I will be able to proclaim to the world “I have arrived!” when I arrive—and have been arriving—every day?
Our city is in this space, too. It’s an exciting time to be Spokane … it feels as though we are all going places right here. Projects continue to rise and our community continues to grow. And we don’t have to chase anything, or trade out what we know for something newer, something different, something closer to those other cities we are always being compared with. We get to feel pride, contentment and peace as we journey along, knowing we are indeed progressing, that our city is progressing, and that we have been and will continue to “arrive” every day.
As we close out 2017, and face a new year—full of goals and expectations—I challenge us all to capture unexpected moments. Perhaps accepting a call from a friend for any kind of time together. Or lingering at a city viewpoint above the nighttime twinkling lights, trying to map out the city you know by day, within the nightscape. Maybe you’ll pause to watch an eagle soar (it’s that time of year over Lake Coeur d’Alene). Or perhaps, when the earth warms again, you’ll trap Mr. Hop just long enough to bring him to near death for your own pleasure, and then set him free with one mighty leg still intact. And most importantly, I hope you feel as though you arrive—as you are right now—every single day.
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