The other night I had a dream. It was about 10-15 years from now and my children were dropping me off and getting me settled in an assisted living home. My dream character had a fair amount of dementia though my memory had not quite left me completely.
The dream spanned a 3-day period. I slept in my very cozy bed, got up in the morning, showered, and went to the dining room for a yummy breakfast that I didn’t have to cook. After that I took a book and read out in the garden for hours, listening to the birds, feeling the sunshine on my face, breathing in the fresh air, and smiling a lot.
After that, I went to have my lunch, chatting with other residents at my table. The afternoon was spent doing an activity that the center set up such as playing cards, doing arts and crafts, stretching and tai chi, meditation, or a walk around the gardens.
Then I took a nap, got up and had dinner. After dinner I watched television until it was time for bed.
For three dream-days, I lived this life and I cannot tell you how content I felt. No stress, no responsibilities, no worries. Did what I wanted, when I wanted, how I wanted, with who I wanted. Enjoyed people, enjoyed activities, enjoyed solitude, enjoyed just living in the present moment.
It was so profoundly wonderful, and I was incredibly happy.
Then I woke up. It took a solid minute for me to realize that my dream was not a reality.
My current reality is sort of a frantic desperation to work my to do list before I drop from exhaustion. Writing blog articles, doing readings, answering 60-100 emails a day, volunteering 3-5 hours per day with my Search and Rescue team, managing my kids, feeding our cats, feeding myself, cleaning the house, shopping for groceries, doctor appointments, personal hygiene, phone calls to loved ones, home maintenance, and once a week a walk to the mailbox to get the bills. I allow myself an hour or two a night to watch a show I love.
The complete contrast between my current life and the one I was living in my dream brought tears to my eyes. While I love so many aspects of my life, they sure do keep me busy. There is a weight upon me that I didn’t know I was carrying until I put all the weight down, in my dream.
I suddenly longed to be done with the hustle and bustle, the responsibilities. I just wanted to be that woman in the dream who read for hours in the sunshine, listening to the birds go on about their lives and playing Canasta with the girls.
While I could get away with doing that for a day, maybe two, it just means that much more work waiting for me when I get back.
But the dream was important. It reminded me that life is a string of present moments, and how we choose to spend those moments is ultimately up to us. I don’t have to wait until I’m in the “home” to carve out contentment. I can work it into my schedule now.
What does contentment look like to you? Do you feel content now?