Alice thought she might as well wait, as she had nothing else to do, and perhaps after all it might tell her something worth hearing. For some minutes it puffed away without speaking, but at last it unfolded its arms, took the hookah out of its mouth again, and said, `So you think you're changed, do you?'
Are you content now?' said the Caterpillar.
Today is February 27, 2013, and there's not much left of today. This has been an unusually busy day, but I find that I enjoyed it immensely.
The characters imposed on the beach picture read "manzoku" in Japanese. The term means not only "content" or "contentment," but also "pleasure" and "satisfaction." Yesterday I was listening to an old song by a Japanese singer named Ogura Kei in which he used the word "manzoku." For a while, now, I've been thinking that it meant "perfect," but I realized this evening that the term for perfect is "manten." Close, but no cigar.
However, even my mis-translation has provided me with a valuable message. Contentment is not the same as perfection. When we learn to be content even though we are facing problems and obstacles in life, we can say that we have gained a basic level of mastery.
In my spiritual path, contentment is one of the Five Virtues, and its opposite is greed. Contentment represents a state of balance. It doesn't necessarily mean that we have everything we want or as much as we want. It simply means that we are OK with what we do have. Its opposite, greed, represents an imbalance in our lives, a sense of dissatisfaction with our current situation. In fact, it represents a state of more or less permanent dissatisfaction, no matter how much we have.
Today I had a good day, and it's easy to feel content. My day wasn't perfect, mind you, but it went well enough. On days when everything seems to go wrong, it's much more of a challenge for me to maintain my sense of contentment.
Right now I'm living in a place that is cramped and the management is not particularly friendly, but the rent is right for my budget, and I'm able to stay out of debt. My health is still not the greatest, but I can say that I have improved a great deal, and I've even lost some weight in the last few months. Things are looking brighter on the health front. I had to leave all my in-person friends when I left the Twin Cities, but I have managed to keep all my online friends and add a few more. And I'm slowly getting acquainted with people around here who have similar interests. I started out my retirement with no goals, but I'm starting to develop some interests and make long-term plans.
Balance, that's the key. As long as I an balance the negatives with some positives, I will be OK. Lately I have been feeling bad because I felt that I was wasting my time. Today I filled the day with activities, and spent very little time online. I'm feeling very content right now.
The other day I was talking about setting goals and I quoted someone who said that we must know how we want to feel when we have reached our goals. I want to feel content. :-)