Saturday, September 15, 2012

Godliness with contentment is great gain

The problem with the good ol' days is that they have this seductive, nostalgic allure. But you can't go back, and even if you could, it wouldn't be the same, coz you're not the same person you were then. Neither is anyone else. It was a moment in time that has passed, never to be repeated.

But their sheer elusiveness wraps those days in even greater temptation. We always want what we can't have, hence the 10th commandment intoning, "Do not covet." And we are also always in a seeming state of chronic discontent, incessantly evaluating, weighing, comparing, so that memories of those good ol' days begin to build up in our mind to a state of near-perfection.

Living in the moment is a challenge. Most urban professionals, I suspect, live in the future, gunning for the next promotion, electronic gadget, exotic vacation. Others secretly live in the past, one filled with bitter regrets and impotent "what-ifs". To be fully present in the now is to be aware of it: "This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it," the psalmist wrote. Rejoicing -- giving thanks -- breeds contentment. Contentment allows us to sink into the present without constantly looking over our shoulder or straining our necks to peer around the next bend in the road.

It's difficult to be content when the lure of the good ol' days beckons. Sometimes I wonder if I was truly happier then, or if it is merely an illusion, encouraged by the passage of time. It's easy to create a fantasy in the mind that can never be challenged by reality, since you can never go back or recreate those events. But fantasy or not, I'm convinced that if I keep looking back, I'll end up missing the wonder of that which is right under my nose. So I fight to stay in the present, to cultivate contentment, to be thankful. I can't deny that there's much to be thankful for, even if life has not turned out exactly the way I wished it had.

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