By Katherine Szekely on Sunday, September 11, 2016
I am trying to learn this concept of contentment.
Contentment? Blegh. The word itself reeks of boredom. I’d like to fancy myself as an adventurer of sorts. The type of person that sucks the marrow out of every moment until they hungrily devour the next. An insatiable burning in my gut stimulates a mind that reaches its many winding tentacles into any and every crevice of possibility.
So to sit and make peace with all that there is left to do? Rather hard.
But, I acquiesce, I do suffer. (What a joke- don’t we all?) Perspective is important, and privilege is a thing, but some suffering is not just broken bones and empty bellies. Some suffering is invisible. The kind that sneaks up on you in the middle of your worthless routine. It seeps into your lungs so that every breath is a reminder of what is not. This invisible hand crucifies you to your cross of lies, pinning you to an identity you once wanted, but now wish you could trash.
At what age is it where we are mentally forced to pick a side and dutifully follow it until the end? I can’t remember ever attaching myself to one idea of how to live. But, I suppose, I just let the program download, turned the numb switch on, and there ya go.
To that droid-version of me, contentment is a swear word. It’s in the Ten Commandments, you know?! Thou shalt not fall behind. Thou shalt produce or else perish in the fiery pits of loserdom. And, in America, we are winners. Everybody wins. And the ones who don’t are just pieces of shit that drain our economy. So, to be OK with everything I have already? I might as well hand in my citizenship and head for the nearest Nordic country. Commies.
But, one day, I woke up. In a Stoppard-inspired moment, the Guildenstern in me must have had a moment of saying no. I deprogrammed. I became dangerous- not yet to society (to inspire a consciousness revolution was like handing a toddler a fork with jello and saying ‘don’t make a mess’)- but to myself. Like peeling an onion down to its core, it was a sticky business that sparked revulsion, tears, and hands that must be repeatedly washed to remove each translucent layer of skin. The skin that once seemed like titanium, impervious and prepared, shriveled up between my fingers.
What to do with this nubile body? This raw mind? This awakened soul? When one reaches this state, like unplugging oneself from the Matrix, there is nothing more to do but to keep searching for all the microscopic leeches that suck your life force dry and burn them to a husk.
I’m in the midst of this heart of darkness. This spiritual extermination that redefines everything I thought I was and wanted. And that’s when the suffering strikes most. Ignorance is truly bliss, but the type of bliss like a pina colata by a poolside: it’s all sweet and tasty and makes you feel pretty until its gone and you feel a hangover, sugar crash, nausea, and sunburn simultaneously. But when the call comes, and one must leave the safe, constructed reverie of the pool, you gotta take it. Because (like all my debt collectors) theywill call you so many times that finally you pick up, screaming “What is it?!?!” and then have to face the consequences of your willful ignorance. You must sort through all of the clothes in your closet and see them in the true light of day. You see the pain they brought you. How could I be so stupid? Did I say that? Did I DO that?
Certain friends suddenly don’t seem so cool anymore. Shopping is painful and reality shows make your innards hurt. Sitting on a packed train at rush hour is demoralizing, and each manufactured hamburger fuck-patty makes you wretch.
And that is when the realization comes. I am content. I don’t need this or want this. Everything I’ve been told is right is not necessarily wrong, but irrelevant. The suffering of de-conditioning yourself becomes like hair removal: not pleasant overall, but something that must be done dutifully.
I wish I could end this on a note of, ‘and then it gets better.’ But I can’t say that it does, as I am still digging through the rubble, myself. There are others who’ve seen the light of day and have lived to tell the tale, and that’s encouraging. But, as I’m regrettably learning, contentment is a process. The catch is, one must practice the process in order to keep on the journey. The goal is the practice and the practice is the goal. In a ‘there is no Dana, only Zoul’ kind of way, where the becoming is the being and vice versa.
That’s where compassion comes into it. Because if you can be with yourself on this path, you certainly feel for others: both the ones who are on the pilgrimage with you and the ones still by the pool. ‘Cause it’s inevitable. Like the pain of adolescence, we all have to go through it. It’s there; so make peace with it. Be content.