“I’ve never seen any life transformation that didn’t begin with the person in question finally getting tired of their own bullshit.”
— Elizabeth Gilbert (via floatingonatidalwave)
— Elizabeth Gilbert (via floatingonatidalwave)
I wonder at twenty-somethings who say that they are content.
What the fuck does that even mean.
I’m selfish enough to not understand. Probably ever. How exactly is one “content” in his/her twenties? (Or ever. But, especially in his/her twenties.) In the 21st century. With all of the clandestine opportunities and the outright angst and the fucking mysteries (Perhaps, there are no more mysteries, but mysteries are subjective ((right?)), and there very well may still be mysteries, and hopefully they are those pulling mysteries — the ones that enthrall those who haven’t seen them or smelled them or heard them or touched them), and you just feel like the whole fucking world is ready and waiting to be watched and loved and hated and admired and explored and raped and pillaged and conquered and completely taken advantage of in the most ravenous and unapologetic and exquisite of fashions.
(Like colonialism. Minus the nasty ethnocentric bits.)
That is what your twenties are for, am I right? That is what life is for. Exploring the unknown. (Unknown to you, at least.) Challenging your comforts. Breaking your proverbial bubble. Shuddering in the shower while you recall your quite scandalously churlish behavior the night before.
Not this “being content” buuuuuullshit.
Not to say that a person shouldn’t be satisfied with the enormity of his/her own happiness. Certainly, being happy is a feeling to revel in, to be proud of.
But, “content” and “happy”? Yeah, not synonymous.
“Happiness” is learned and exercised. It is a process — a fucking phenomenal process, to be sure — that is, as I said, learned and exercised and perfected over time. And, often and easily faked. (Smiles scare the shit out of me. They are so effortlessly plagiarized. You see one, you mimic it because it’s what is right; it is what is to be done. What the fuck is that.
“Contentedness” is a different mahshugahnah entirely. It can be counterfeited, for a degree of time (anyone can mimic a smile), but how long? How long can someone pretend that he/she is satisfied? HOW CAN SOMEONE BE PERMANENTLY SATISFIED?
The answer is: It’s not possible. IF! The environment surrounding you is stagnant.
People, in general, are not stagnant. They move. They grow. They change. More quickly, more easily, more efficiently than moonlit tides or political stability or my best friend Maria’s fucking hair color. (It was blue two weeks ago. It’s not blue anymore.) Maybe in small ways. Maybe in monumental ways. Maybe it’s gradual. Maybe it’s an atomic bomb to the brain. (But, most significantly,) People may sit still, but they are never still. The human brain is remarkable, because it is always moving. How can we, as people, contain (!stifle!) a moving entity?
(Yo.) We can’t. Which is why complete contentedness is such an unfeasible goal. (Especially in your 20’s.)
All this to say: It’s all right to feel that what you have is not enough; that it’s just a beginning. (Not to say that what you have should be discarded at any given time. Because, fuck you, take responsibility. Love what you’ve built by yourself and with others, especially, you ungrateful fuck. But,) Duuuuude. Never succumb to stagnancy.
Stagnancy is so fucking dangerous because it feeds off of that counterfeit contentedness. And, vice versa.
I’m not saying that you have to move to Carson City. Or, get a tattoo. Or, abandon everything you’ve ever known to start a Ska band and snag a skanky record deal.
I’m saying that it’s okay to be discontent: to want more and to strive for more and to love more and to be afraid more and to hate yourself more and others more and then to love yourself and others more (Love is a state of contentedness that I also don’t understand. Love doesn’t sit still, either. Love should always, always have the potential to grow and be greater. Be content to be loved. That I understand. But, never (never) find contentedness in the feeling that you have loved enough.) and to be fucking miserable more and happy more and have sex more and sing more and DO EVERYTHING MORE.
I think that we, as people, have misconstrued the definition of contentedness. (Or, maybe I have. Because, I’m drunk and angsty ((I was born in the 90’s. Fucking right.))). We view contentedness as a reason to stop. A reason to sit still and be stagnant.
Don’t be stagnant. Doing is what humans do.
Remember to fucking do things.
Russell Smith (1812-1896)
Oil on canvas
Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts