I am always amazed when I see someone on TV in an interview, and they boldly pronounce, “Oh yeah. I knew when I was five years old that I wanted to be a Quarterback in the NFL. And so that’s what I did.”
It could be any such thing. The NFL standout, the successful novelist, the movie and television star. Those people, a lot of times, say they knew from a very young age the direction of their dreams.
I had my finger up my nose when I was five. I was playing tag, and climbing fences. My big aspiration for the day might be to score a slice of Kugelis from our Lithuania neighbors up the street. Or, to find some change on the street, and maybe buy some candy up at the United Dairy Farmers. My sights were set high.
Yes. That is the extent of my famous life.
William James once said, “Begin to be now what you will be hereafter.”
Begin to be now what you will be hereafter.
And that is exactly how we go. Over and over again. Most days, I am content. As such, I am extremely thankful to be where I am, mundanely doing what I do. And so it has followed.
The universe is huge and we are but a small part of it. Yet, without each one of us, the universe would be incomplete. Or so I am told.
Many schools of thought and philosophies say that every single one of us is truly an integral part of that magnificent universe. I believe it is true. We are all a piece of the puzzle. From the car mechanic, to the physics scholar, to the diner cook, to the boat captain. The street vendors and the politicians.
I mean, we can’t all be movie stars. Who would watch the movies? Same with quarterbacks. Someone has to buy the hotdogs and nachos and sit in the freezing cold with big Cheeseheads on.
They say there is an “energy of creation” within each one of us, and the Universe is there, smiling, and lending itself to us. Even in our Cheeseheads, with mustard on our chins.
Yet as I said, most days I just feel content. Content to be content.
Hmmm. That word.
If you use it as an adjective, it is pronounced ( cun TENT )
And of course it means, satisfied, or happy with, or glad.
“I was content with the outcome.”
If you use it as a noun, it is pronounced ( CON tent )
And it means quantity, or an amount. Substance.
“The contents of the gift box were a mystery.”
Are we content with our content?
Are we happy with our self-amounts?
There are always unlimited possibilities before us if we open our minds to it. Today, we could go to the airport, buy a ticket to Bermuda, and devote the rest of our lives to being a world-class limbo dancers.
We could get in our cars, drive to Nebraska, and consign ourselves to following the mating habits of the Western Meadowlark.
Or, we can get out of bed, watch the news, fix breakfast, and move through our days as we always do. The possibilities are endless.
But here is the thing, I think. If we do it well, if we show kindness along the way, if we appreciate the things in our lives which are gifts — we are doing it right.
We may not have known at five-years-old, that this is what we would be doing. But it is what we choose now. Here we are in the world. Our “being” can be a gift to others, even if we see our contributions as small.
The significance isn’t relevant. Our choice to give others the gift of “us” is key. And the greatness of our goodness is profound.
“It’s a funny thing about life, once you begin to take note of the things you are grateful for, you begin to lose sight of the things that you lack.”
― Germany Kent
“He who knows contentment is rich.” — Lao Tzu
“Nothing is more simple than greatness; indeed, to be simple is to be great.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson