"Oh, that's cute –for a first apartment."
A couple of years ago, as we were sitting in our little apartment, window air conditioner rattling away, a Christano's take-n-bake pizza in the oven with both sides rolled inward an inch so it could fit into the smallest oven with stovetop I've ever seen, my wife looked up from the book she was reading and stated as matter of fact, "You know, we have a really good life. I feel content." In the following months, that astonishing item was repeated with the same sentiment.
It was a bit like the first year of our marriage when I would with joy (or, depending on the day, horror) look at Courtney and say, "Huh. We're married. Isn't that weird?" And from time to time that phrase still gets repeated, an obvious but deep truth that we both know but feel the need to express to each other. It was like that.
But our newfound sense of satisfaction wasn't/isn't impervious. People have a way of using your shoulder as a rag, wiping discontentment off their own hands as they say something like, "Oh! This is cute for a first apartment."
I'm sure they mean well, but I can't tell you how many times we've had to resist the urge to explain that actually we've come to the place where we've realized that if we never moved out of this 600 square feet, we could still have a rich and full life. Not hypothetically. Actually.
The same goes for our employment. By North American standards, our income is meager. We both work at a coffee shop, and I give guitar lessons, a combined 60 hours or so a week. But contentment means that the insurance on our no-payment, 12 year old cars, frees us up to pay cash for repairs, have health insurance, and work at a job that allows moments like the other day when our commute to work was a ten minute early morning walk –and yes, we were holding hands. Again we had one of those, "huh, this is a good life", moments.
I'm not saying this to toot my own horn. Well, maybe a bit. I often have mixed motives. But more than that, this is an encouragement for those who find themselves strangely and awkwardly content. You probably have enough voices shaming you to want more and need someone to say, "No. It's perfectly alright to be weird. You are allowed to be thoroughly satisfied with whatever you do or don't have. You aren't the first, and you won't be the last."