Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Contentment and wanderlust

When my head is still, I can smile. The kind of smile where your whole body curls up at the edges. We've all been around that kind of smile, whether it's our own or not. It's addictive. I dig smiling like that and I dig being around people that rock the whole-soul/whole-body smile.

Contentment is inherent in that kind of smile. A contentment that comes with not wanting to be anywhere else in the world; with being cool, happy, and in tune with where you are, the people around you and the vibe and activity of the moment.

I like to cultivate that contentment, though I'm not always particularly good at it.

The flip-side of that feeling, let's call wanderlust. Restless leg syndrome for the soul. That feeling that you gotta move, gotta go, gotta see, gotta do. I sometimes chug down a fat cup of wanderlust as well.

I think a little wanderlust is probably a good thing. If it is harnessed toward your career and the George Jeffersonian moving on up. If it motivates you to travel and see the world. If it keeps you from complacency.

The problem with wanderlust is forgetting the contentment side of the coin. Forgetting how to bust out the whole-body smile. Forgetting to dig what's going on around you. If you're always looking toward the next thing, you don't even take in the cool shit from the here and now.

A handful of us at work where thinking on commuting. Our friend TWM shared stories of his DC Metro commute days, about how sometimes he would just take the Metro to random stops, listening to his tunes for whole albums and letting that be the soundtrack for whatever he was writing or his afternoon, and would find someplace new to grab a coffee and write. Man, I dig that.

It reminded me of a house painter in Oxford, Bruce Mills, who I've talked about on here before, who generally commutes from town to town by bike. He said how he hates to travel by car because he gets there too fast and can't take in the sights, sounds and smells and get his head together.

There's something to that, something in that for me. Whether it is reading E.B. White's "Charlotte's Web" aloud to the girls; whether it is our new neighborhood games of stadium-lit cornhole; whether it is a sunset cruise on the Choptank; whether it is the feeling of jumping in the pool on a hot afternoon and timing how long the girls can hold their breath for; whether it is being at a Nationals game and watching them win a pitcher's duel in the bottom of the 9th inning.

Contentment. That whole-body/whole-soul smile. I gotta get me some of that.

* Illustration at top of Huck Finn by E.W. Kemble


Sean and Rain Gowens said...

It's all about appreciating every moment!

Kelly said...

the great counter balance, AND insanity of my life. well summarized, well expressed as now i can better say Yes yes yes about myself...and feel the nod of a whole body smile.

i wouldn't want either aspect in any less account.