The Turnstile: 365ideas4change Number 49

I sent a message to a friend today, in which I said I have realised over the past two days that I am content. Immediately the finger-wagger in my head went “No ambition”! Wrong (I’m sure there’s a good joke to be had about criticising your inner critic…..).

The definition of content includes words like “peace”, “happiness”, “satisfied”. It isn’t quite right. I can’t claim a state of perpetual bliss as might be implied by peace. Happiness has this goofy smile all over it. Satisfied seems lazily superior at times. Nope, still not quite right..

In breaking the word content into syllables – con and tent – I totally overanalysed their meaning just for fun. And had a bit of a Eureka moment. One meaning of con is “against” (I know, it also means to deceive – just go with me). And a tent, is well, a tent. It is a container, it is protective, it is shelter. It also implies holding onto things. So how can something that is “against (i.e. contrary to) contained protective shelter” mean “peace, happiness and satisfied”? Seems counterintuitive.

I think the feel of it is in the word flow. If I am not contained, protected and sheltered, I am subjected to the buffeting of the wind and waves, and the elements of life. All of that implies movement, action, and the utter impossibility of preventing that. If we let go of historical mountains of baggage as well as in-the-moment baby suitcases, we stop fighting things as they are. Neither good nor bad, they just are. Its not perfection, it doesn’t mean we don’t lose it sometimes. But we let it go. In line with yesterday’s blog, perhaps the cliché of “Don’t try coughing against thunder” is again ancient wisdom to help us be more content.

Perhaps contentment is acceptance, flow, letting be. It’s not a slothful shoo-wow haze. It’s not not caring. Its an active opening of the in- and out-doors. Perhaps contentment is movement and experience (as a verb).

About Julie Courtnage

With training in environmental science, I facilitate 'naked conversations' about sustainable wellbeing. Using facilitation techniques, systems thinking, art, music, writing, movement and photography, we explore the active creation of our uniqueness - personal and collective, as individuals, organisations and society - and our relationships with others, with sustainable wellbeing, and with genuine happiness. This journey of creation is a journey of Love. And fun.
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