Last night I enjoyed sitting by my living room Christmas tree, taking a few moments to pause and be grateful. It didn't take long for the tears to come, and I recognized how much I have in this life, how deep my blessings run, and how much better it is to focus on what I have instead of what I don't have.
For most of my life I have been chasing down contentment, and unable to properly access it. At some point during this difficult summer and fall, I have settled into a new pattern of being grateful for what I have been given and what I've achieved, without feeling like it doesn't measure up to what I actually wanted.
This kind of settled feeling offers independence from myself in a completely new way. The desperate panic to achieve status has abated, and left a quiet satisfaction in its place. I love this feeling of recognizing how far I've come instead of measuring the distance I have yet to travel.
All of life is made up of our present, our past and our future. How we relate to it determines our daily mood and experience. We have to come to terms with where we've been, where we are, and where we are going. Our possessions fall into this category too. There is always more to buy, and we own more now than we did years ago, and we must exist inside of that gap.
Slowly simplifying what I own has freed me up to pursue other avenues in life. It has given me more energy to write, to give to my kids and my friends, and the permission to relax and have more fun. It has cut down on my competitive urge to own more than the next person, and helped me understand that owning more means being owned, and I would rather choose freedom over slavery.
Last night, in front of my tree, I thought about how healthy we are, and that we have each other, and friends, and lots of joy and laughter. I can see things clearer now than I could six months ago, and even though it was hell to get from there to here, I have changed, and will never go back to how I used to experience the world. I want to go forward from here, and I plan to use gratitude and love as my flashlight, instead of negativity and competition.