On Friday morning I fought off awakening as long as I could until I was fully conscious and slipped into my running clothes. I followed trails that run parallel to Lake Michigan, passing holiday parties that were already past the festive mark at 8:30 a.m., and, before I was to return home, I ventured on to a pier to meditate and do a few yoga positions. Later, showered and fed, I set up my own camping site, at a coffee shop, and fiercely typed as the same Bon Iver song played over and over in my ears. My patriotic celebration, in the evening, included a cookout under the comforting city sky and then fireworks over the lake.
The next morning I again forced my body into to more sleep but my roommate’s dog needed to be let out, which I volunteered to do while she was away. During our promenade, we stopped at the local farmer’s market so I could buy bread and shoppers could coo at the adorable Daschund. I returned to the market later to pick up lunch supplies for the week and then wandered south, circling in and out of antique shops and quiet boutiques. I bought a memoir for a book club that I am joining and returned to my neighborhood to absorb it along side the ocean. At home, I made I a nice meal, watched a movie, and took a soothing bath while sipping white wine.
On the final day of my weekend, I ran, attend church, read the morning newspaper out on the deck while sipping tea and let the afternoon pass at the beach.
To many, this is not an unusual life – a woman in a city going about her business. Yet, this was a life I dreamt about on my most difficult days in Lesotho. I craved beach runs, fresh produce from the local market and a morning without the horrendous sound of a donkey. It was the simple American life I had given up, which I did so without regret, but I still missed it.
Now it’s in my possession. It’s a life I am fully capable of leading. I had this same life in DC, with a few less of this and a few more of that, but I longed for routine runs along my village road or the vastly empty sky that I started into while drinking tea outside of my house. For many of the early months this year, I wondered if I could truly ever be happy. I always wanted something I couldn’t have.
At mass this morning Father spoke of being thankful for what we have, the blessings God has given us. Not the ones in the past or future, but the little things we had before us now. Although I’ve focused on practicing presence quite heavily in the last four years, I am still not so great at it. Even on this wonderful weekend, I often thought of what was missing and what I lacked.
Since I’ve come home I feel like I am in a constant need. I need this or I have to get this or I really wish this would come to me. These things are both tangible and non, things I feel that I must have for what I don’t know but I must have them. If one is deprived, or at least in my case, it is often because I believe it not because I really am enough.
Life is far from perfect but I have so many good things going for me and I almost always take them for granted. I don’t fully appreciate all that has been given to me because I am so focused on what I am lacking. This is a terrible way to live, feeling as if you need just one more thing, one more person to make your entire life come together. That one more thing or one more person will never be enough.
When I am strung up on a guy, which happens all too often, I will buckle down in disappointment of unmet expectations and myself. One of my friends will tell me that I am lonely and I will agree. Then, always, she says, “Oh, do not be lonely. You are so loved.” I used to hate when she said this because it didn’t make me feel less lonely nor did it make my Prince Charming arrive. It’s taken time but I finally understood what she meant. Maybe it’s different than what I anticipated but it is still present and it’s amazing, insurmountable love.
Farmer’s markets, dirt African roads, ample electricity or long adventures cannot make me happy. Happiness is not something to achieve, rather something to discover. It’s here and the only way to find it is to recognize, appreciate and be grateful for the situations and people in my life now. They are enough. I, in this moment, am enough.