IMO: Restless

Time’s a-Wastin’

Jim told me that I must be feeling better since I’m in my head today–restless, impatient, and generally querulous. That he puts up with that is amazing. He said there were worse things I could be, and I didn’t ask what, so I sighed with relief the dark side doesn’t bother him. He gave me space, and I brooded all day. Eventually, I pulled myself out of my funk, but I admit I am weary of the questions. The rational me wonders why I am at this old age of fifty-five still acting like a school girl.

Remembering Dorothy looking at the hourglass in the witch’s den resonates deeply. Being content is the hardest state-of-being for me. I have accomplished a lot. I want for nothing, and I am surrounded by people who love and like me. Yet, all my life I have been antsy and chasing some goal as though my time on Earth was foretold and I had only a week left. Pursuing dreams has conditioned me to be never satisfied for long. It is a downright foible, in my book. A sin. I spend a lot of energy hiding my dissatisfaction. I find it difficult to stop wishing I was elsewhere or that if only I could snap my fingers and reinvent myself.

Most of you know I was seriously ill from January through March. Last week I was in the hospital again with a fever, and I developed blood clots. I was out on Saturday and back to work on Monday. Stomach injections, a crazy pace, students to keep on task–by Friday I was exhausted. The rest of this weekend was grading papers and trying my best to work on my novel. I watched a movie. I read a little. I slept a lot.

Sometimes I feel cracked. My head and my heart are separate entities vacillating for my emotions. While I love my job, my home, my family, and my life, I wish I could find a cave in Greece and hide out anonymously for some time in peace. If that happened, I know I would be bored after three days and long for the companionship. Ambivalence is my middle name!

I have heard it said that humans are intrinsically restless by nature, striving and craving for more. Do you believe that? Or do some who seem content have conditioned themselves not to ask for more, therefore what they have is good enough? Finally, I think people are hard-wired at birth. Maybe because my mind rotates like that out-of-control carousel in Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train, it is impossible for me to ever be content?

If you are content by nature, please, tell me how you do it!  What’s your secret?

35 thoughts on “IMO: Restless

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  1. And you wonder “why at this old age of fifty-five [I am} still acting like a school girl”? You know the answer to that question. Fifty-five is only a chronological marker and has nothing to do with the age of you mind. I would wager that in your mind you are actually twenty five years old or thereabouts. That, though, is for you to say.

    Lacking contentment, read something fun that captures the imagination. Read True Grit: A Novel by Charles Portis. Take a break. Enjoy the story and the manner in which it is told.

  2. As an ex-teacher, I know that you want to help your students during periods of your own illness, but please, be careful what you are doing. Don’t get worse just because you are trying to be Super School Girl. In retrospect, I’m certainly pleased that I stopped trying to be Superteacher after only two days of chickenpox.

    1. Hi John, ex-teacher–you know then. I gave up superteacher a decade ago–this is just normal, hoop-jumping from the administration. But when you don’t feel 100 percent, it wears. Even when you are, it wears. Eight more years to go…

  3. Contentment is a fragile state of mind, easily disturbed by unexpected events or changes in routine. Some confuse contentment with acceptance. Those who accept their lot in life, make the best of things, and carry on regardless are often thought to be content. But are they?
    I have had long periods in my life where I was content, and just as many when I was not. Leaving locations and relationships to seek the return of that contentment proved pointless, because the discontent was in me, so travelled too. You have just gone through serious illness, unpleasant surgery, and the accompanying shock of all that. It is natural to wonder, “What’s next?” Or like the great old song, “Is that all there is?”
    Sometimes, it is all there is.
    Love and best wishes, Pete. x

    1. Pete, wise words, young man. I’m feeling both
      “What’s next?” and “Is that all there is?” simultaneously. Must be transitioning into a different stage of life…growing pains at 55!

      1. Not wishing to be a doom merchant, I have to say “do it now”. (Whatever it is you may want to do) Because it doesn’t get any easier when you are 66, believe me. 🙂 x

        1. The only thing I want to do is have the time to write creatively. That and travel as much as I can. Switching jobs is not an option and wishing I lived in a different house might happen if I am patient. But it’s affordable and will allow me to travel, so I better stop bickering. I admire that you take blogging so seriously. I’m sure it is emotionally gratifying. When I retire, I hope to post as much as you. It’s a fun hobby.

  4. I’m sorry to read this – particularly about your health – but you have already received some good comments. I am by nature content, but have been through some times when I have been desperate. I suppose the best way is to remember that the good times will return.

    1. Derrick, I appreciate your wisdom on the situation. Change is the one constant. Mood shifts the highs and lows come and go. When they linger, it is annoying and distressing. I love the perspective of everyone here. I’m not surprised to learn you are content–your pictures of your daily life show your love for the simple, pleasant things in life. I admire you for it.

  5. Your thinking mirrors most all of us. We wrestle with contentment as if we are constantly searching. Hard wired? Meant to be? Seems that way. I hope you are feeling better!!

    1. Physically I am much better. Just a couple lingering issues that I’m not obsessing over. I think I’m still dealing with it while in my regular fast-paced career–I’m disjointed. It will pass, my brain tells my heart. My heart hopes so. 😉

  6. “Content” you ask. I was very uncontent for 22 years – trying to refind my Spiritual path that I had been in before. When I found it, it changed everything. Then I started climbing back up the ladder.
    But I don’t know what ‘s right for anybody else. Art? Art is a good path. Writing. Blogging. Photography. Nature … you do all that.

    1. Ha! My malcontent comes from not having the time to do everything I want. What a baby.
      There are times when I am doing these things and I can’t let go and get lost in the process, too. Too antsy in my head. It’s a curse I am working on. Thanks for sharing, JC.

  7. I had to think about that. All of us are affected by our genetic makeup, environmental conditioning as we grow and reaction to the frequent traumas of life. I think you are right, some are hard wired to respond in different ways because of those realities. At my age one does have concerns but thinking about it after reading your blog I believe that basically I’m content. Probably its because I believe this life is not all there is otherwise life would be a hopeless burden. I believe in a hereafter where all the stuff that plagues us in this live is absent and all is perfection. I can wait patiently and put up with life’s realities because of that. 🙂

    1. Wow, really like your wisdom and thoughts, Ian. I’m happy you are content! I believe in the hereafter–something happens, like you say, devoid of burdens and plagues. But I need to work on my relationship with God. They say that those who are happiest have a strong relationship with God. He puts life in perspective and keeps one calm. Thanks, Ian!

  8. This is a fascinating thought provoking post Cindy. I do think you’re right that people are hard-wired from birth. I know in my family my sister and I have completely opposite personalities. How can that be, when we have the same parents and have had the same upbringing? I don’t know, you’re wiser than I am so I won’t bore you. I do hope you’re feeling better when you read this. If it’s any consolation your post has increased my vocabulary by another word… querulous.

    1. Ha! Querulous is a fine word. I don’t like it when I feel it, though. I don’t care much for whiners and when I do it, I cringe inside.
      Not so sure about the wise part, but Paul, I love that you came by and commented and shared your thoughts. Yes, my siblings and I are dramatically different. I’m feeling better. Just neurotic like the rest of the world in my own way. 😉

  9. I think there were a handful of times in my life when I was content. There are years I look back on wistfully but I’m sure at the time I was not happy. Or at least fully. I believe my unhappiness is linked to job security and the inability to grow real wealth over periods of time. But I suspect it is really more to be with judgement, judgement of myself, my loved ones and my lot. So if that rings a bell, allow me to say don’t judge yourself. You achieved much and will achieve more. Just take care for now and of course don’t forget to smell the roses.

    1. I demand a lot out of myself and struggle sometimes when either my body lets me down or my will slackens and I fail to follow through as I did easily when I was in my 20s and 30s and 40s. Letting go of the pressure I put on myself and stopping to just breathe and smelling your roses is the key to balance. So says my brain 😉
      Thanks, Lloyd.

  10. for much of my life, all i needed was a guitar, a girl, and a bottle of wine and i was content. now the closest i come to contentment is when all my thoughts and energy are absorbed in something outside of myself,

    1. a guitar, a girl, and a bottle of wine–lyrics from a song, no doubt. I am content when I’m playing with the words in my novel and when I write posts. All my energy is absorbed in something inside of myself. Outside is better.

      1. for three years u was content alone insde my nvel, and another three years content alone uinside my memoir, but now, with mrrge and parenthood, i have to catc such momennts of contentment on the sly, and by absorption in such contemplation of otheress is continually interruoted by the demands of waking life. still, for thse moments when i am able even to develop the harmonies for one melodic line, or scribble down a quick idea for a verse, in such feeting moments i am conntent.

  11. Contentment is something we all crave for, it’s natural. So is the “hiding out in Greece” concept; we all need some “me” time; no matter how much we love to socialize. I’d love to own a cabin in the Swiss Alps or something; a holiday home, where I could spend sometime relaxing. At the same time, I’m a city person who also loves the hustle and bustle. So it’s just normal, being restless; wanting to do something different, never being completely satisfied. We are human after all. 🙂

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