grant me the serenity
to accept the people I
cannot change; the courage
to change the one I can;
And the wisdom to know that
person is me. –
≈ someone wise
What does it mean to be contented? Webster’s dictionary has a very concise definition: feeling or manifesting satisfaction with one’s possessions, status, or situation. But that definition doesn’t do it for me. What’s missing has everything to do with how we arrive at that place AND how true contentment lies way beyond both things and situations.
I read once, in a book by Tony Hillerman titled Sacred Clowns, that Navajo Indians, in the midst of a terrible drought, do not pray for rain. Rather they create a ceremony to restore themselves to a state of harmony with the lack of water, the dying crops and sheep, the dryness all around. Their practice is designed to recognize what is beyond human power to change and then to change their attitude in order to be at peace with what is so.
To my mind, this does not imply inaction or complacency. It is not about giving up and not going in search of water. It is not about not responsibly conserving and rationing what water there is. What it is about is being able to still be at peace in the midst of whatever is going on all around. Simple but not easy.
I think how we get to contentment is mostly by choice. It is not about what is “out there” but rather about what is already always inside of us. There are some times that I can simply choose to be content with what is so. Yet, other times it seems there is a contentment that washes over me, delivering me to some easy inner spaciousness I could not have come to by my will alone.
Angeles Arrien speaks about the fourfold way counseled by indigenous peoples: Show up. Pay attention. Tell the truth. Don’t be attached to the outcome. And so it seems when I can show up fully – mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually; when I can pay attention to what has both meaning and heart; when I can speak my truth with neither judgment nor blame; and when I can allow myself to be open to possibilities without being attached to specific outcomes, I can perhaps begin to ease into that place of true contentment. What is most astonishing is that, when I am most content, I am least aware of it. I simply live and breathe within the spaciousness of peace and joy. Only when it is absent am I truly cognizant of what is missing, in the same way that pain catches my attention in a way that the everyday grace of no pain does not.
Hmmmmm. Perhaps what I
need most is a fine tuning
of my awareness.
from Feeling My Way - 99 Poetic Journeys
© 2008 Minx Boren. All rights reserved.