Content: [kuh n-tent] adjective.
I am the one who grasps the sand too tightly so that it slips swiftly through my fingers. The tighter the grasp, the faster the grains fall. The more I think I gain the more I actually lose.I remember sitting at the bank with Jacob before we got married, before we bought our townhouse with blue shutters and crazy daises. Again with the grasping– my fingers tightly gripping knees– the banker telling Jacob, “Are you sure this is the loan you want? You know you can qualify for more” and Jacob replying, “Don’t tell me what I qualify for. We are content with starting small. You know,” he joked, “we want to be able to afford pizza on Friday nights.” I eked out a smile knowing full well that my pilot brother was building a house with a pool and a yard and brand new cabinets and counter space. “Sure,” I said to Jacob. “Whatever you think is best!” Later that night I cried desperate tears for 15 minutes because in my little mind what we had was not enough. Selfishness stifles you small and comparison is, as they say, “the thief of joy.” And so we got married and soon moved into our townhouse with a Jane Eyre-esque red room, no furniture, two cats, and a television I pilfered from my dad’s RV. Three days after our wedding, Jacob carried me over the threshold and then– the cats perched on window sills; the walls were washed clean– fresh paint, furniture placed, pictures hung, garden planted and suddenly– we were at home in the rest of our lives. It didn’t take me long to realize that a fancy house was not the key to happiness– in fact, a fancy house would have set a trap for me. Jacob’s modest decision allowed me to quit a job where I wasn’t thriving to find one (sometimes two, sometimes three) that I love. We were given the flexibility to save and travel and learn that yes– the secret to life is perhaps a more and bigger that look like this instead: more love, more joy, more experiences, more giving, bigger hearts, bigger dreams, bigger adventures.
In short as my wise husband paraphrased biblical to the banker, “Do not despise small beginnings.” We decided early on that a life of less actually meant more in many ways, in the important ways. And besides, things: houses and clothes and jewelry and marble counter tops– they will never fill any void. They are just that . . . things. And so today I am preaching to myself to stop grasping at the sand as it slips slowly out of my hand as I remind me: even if we had nicer things . . . our now 5 cats would probably destroy them before long anyways.