Hardly a moment goes by without me wishing for something. Some wishes are trivial (watch a movie), others a bit deeper (wishing others would do what I ask), still others even deep-rooted (a long-term desire to achieve something).
Its like I am never satisfied with status quo — the complete anti-thesis of being content. No matter how good or bad things are around me, I wish for something. There’s always something more. These wishes may or may not be good for me (and sometimes I know they’re not), yet I am dissatisfied with things the way they are. This can be at work, at home, or in the community.
Its strange how powerful, yet at the same time, binding, this can be.
This desire propels us to achieve great things materially. To create and seek creature comforts. To cross distances faster, easier, cheaper, and in more comfort. To build amazing spaces to live and work in. To create medicine and techniques to help us live longer, healthier lives. To create technology advances our forebears could have barely imagined.
And at the same time, this same desire leaves us dissatisfied. We can hardly ever seem to enjoy what we have now. That desire contains the seed of happiness or sorrow. If my wish comes true, I’ll be happy for a while, and rather than enjoying it, I’ll seek something else. If my wish does not come true, I’ll be sad. I’m caught in this endless happy/sad cycle, forever discontent with what I have. That’s a shame. For I know I am meant to be happy; that is why I instinctively seek happiness and dislike sorrow. Nobody has to convince me to like happiness.
But what if we could rise above desire? What if we could no longer be a slave to it? Wouldn’t it be liberating, just wonderful, to perform an act — whatever it is — for its own sake? Not because we desire something? Its like creating a work of art, not to seek praise or money, but to simply enjoy the creation itself. It may or may not move people — money or praise will be a side-effect; whether they come or not won’t matter. The act was important, the outcome simply what it is.
That’s being content.