Sunday mornings at coffee shops with bottomless roasts from Kenya and Guatemala and the temptation of croissants and cupcakes frosted in bright greens and pinks to match the anticipation of spring. I sip from a ceramic mug as I transport my emotions onto a word document.
Friday evenings that begin at a near by bar. We buy pints that seem inappropriately large but are excused with the notion that the weekend is now upon us. We take a cab to a far off neighborhood where we drink wine at a friend’s art show and match creative influences to our travel experiences. I forget to censor myself and I blurt out my dream as if I am clear that it is what I want.
Saturdays with runs long the beach and then grocery shopping. I pick out flowers and a few types of cheese. Friends come over later and we eat homemade dishes around candles and take turns picking out our favorite songs to share.
A play after work. A movie at the end of a long day. Yoga in white, clean studios. Clean sheets. Showers. City lights that never tire.
For two years, as I sipped herbal tea that I always felt guilty about buying because it was more expensive than the rooibos and therefore felt like a luxury, these images were my dreams.
My mind went to these thoughts when bleating sheep and screaming bo-ntate woke me up at 6 a.m. When my failure as a teacher was apparent to my students as well as myself. When I had to choose between rice and lentils for dinner for the umpteenth time. When I doubted my decisions to follow this path.
My time in Lesotho came with a very clear end date and I could anticipate the change because it was inevitable. It’s hard now, I thought to myself, but soon I will create the life of my dreams and I will be fine then.
Now, that I have most of what I dreamed of during those lonely nights in my rondaval, I stare off into space thinking of walking along the dusty road to my village. I dream of walking into my school grounds and seeing those faces again. I want to sip tea from my porch and watch the village from a distance. I crave the hustle and bustle of the taxi rank, the odd comfort of zoning out in a comvee and the satisfaction that comes from a huge plate of papa and mereho.
I’ve always wanted what I don’t have. It’s one of my greatest downfalls as a person, but I think it’s something we all do as humans. “The grass is always greener” is not just a nursery saying but a trap, an obstacle from our happiness.
To appreciate what we have when we have it is actually vey hard. Very difficult. It’s hard to be thankful for what we have when our minds tell us that we should have more. It takes a lot of courage, honesty and acceptance to look at your life and see everything you have as all that you need.
The idea that something better is out there is likely the pumping organ to my restlessness. I am constantly afraid of missing out and that I will be “better” if this happens or that comes into my life. I chase dreams and ideas but give up on them quickly because I am not convinced and want more.
But this is exhausting. Life is about achieving and accomplishing to find happiness rather about being content and resilient as life moves and shifts. One blog reader commented that I am so hard on myself and my determination to get the life I believe I should have that I forget all the blessings and miracles that already exist.
So how do you change your perspective? How do you stop looking for the fence and enjoy all that is in front of you? Gratitude.
Gratitude should feel incredible and humbling, but it’s scary. It’s terrifying to admit that what you have is enough because what if it isn’t? What if you are settling for less than you deserve? What if you are using gratitude not to chase as an excuse to stand still and not go after what you want?
The thing is, though, things will come and go from our lives. Sometimes we will be happy and sometimes we will be sad. We will have what we want and we will have what we don’t want. We can’t control what life brings us but we can control how we react. When we are present and thankful for all the current things in our life, we are living the moment just as we should.
I constantly feel like I am lurking backwards and stretching forward and in doing so I feel like I am reacting out of fear and habit instead of living from love and with intent. I don’t want to live like this anymore. I don’t want to keep searching and struggling for the thing that will fix everything, because nothing can. I want to be in the moment and grateful for all that it contains as if I chose it myself. I want to see my past as beautiful memories that have brought me to now and my future as hopeful but not a thing to agonize over.
I want to be thankful.
I want what I already have.
I want to be where I am.