The idea for this post came from a recent e-mail discussion that I had with my dear friend Meg. We all have these "things" that if they were to happen our lives would be so much better. For some the thing would be to get married, if they could only find a spouse how much better their life would be! Others may be longing for things like a thinner body, home ownership, a child, or a college degree. It doesn't really matter what the thing is, whether it is big or small, with most of us it is the longing for a thing that would make our lives complete. I often find myself thinking that if I had only published a book my life would somehow be more complete. When I was younger I used to have this discussion with friends, we would talk about our young adulthood and how we were working towards college degrees then graduate degrees and then we would find jobs and maybe get married, buy a house, have some kids, and then what...well the "then what" stage is the stage that I am in now and I find that the biggest difficulty of "then what" is choosing what to do rather than having it planned for me based on my time in life.
The things tend to be more challenging than the stages. Often we do get the things that we long for to make our lives complete and when we get them, they are nothing like we expected. This is especially true for things that aren't really things like marriage and children. In the case of actual things, the getting of them usually doesn't offer completeness. More often than not, the getting of them results in the desire to have something better. A starter home is great to own, but won't it be great when we can move to a different neighborhood or have this much more square footage. If one is jobless, having money to live may be the desired, and necessary, thing. When the joblessness is left behind and money is coming in, there is always the temptation to want more, to earn more, and to collect more. The money to live is no longer enough and the thing is transformed.
It doesn't really matter what the things are. We all have them. They change. They grow. If we let them they consume us, our minds and our conversations. It is a challenge to be happy where you are at and know that, for whatever reason, you are meant to be in this particular place at this particular time. It takes knowing yourself and learning how to be content, maybe there are things that can make us more fulfilled and more happy, the problem is learning to know just what those are.