Tuesday, May 15, 2012
I'm restless. It's not the easiest feeling. I have somehow learned that restlessness is the same as discontentedness, but they are two different words for two feelings. Restlessness is wanting more. Discontentedness is wanting less. I'm learning to like restlessness rather than resist it.
As an example, I'm sitting on our front steps. It is a lovely evening to be outside. I've always been a front yard guy. I like watching traffic go by, saying hello to neighbors, and watching my daughters ride their bicycles. The front yard is where it's at.
The front steps work for sitting. It works for typing these essays. And I'm low enough to see under the branches of our front yard trees, high enough to see over the bushes. It's good. That said, the slate is hard as hell and tends to put my ass (and other sensitive body parts) to sleep while I type. It would be swell to have a chair up here but there's not enough room.
I would like a patio or porch. I could sit in comfort, have a cup of coffee on a little table, invite a neighbor over, and feel like the king of my castle. The steps are nice, but a patio or porch would be so much better.
This is the essence of restlessness: that things could and should be better.
(I worry that I'm being greedy, but get over that pretty fast. I'm not looking to pile things on. I just want things to get better.)
Putting in a porch or patio is easy enough. Personal things are tougher. One of them is wanting to be more of a writer. I've spoken of this here before but, much to my embarrassment, I've done little more than speak of it. I publish essays here and have sent a couple poems out, but that's it.
Put another way, I've half-assed.
As the joke goes, it's time to whole-ass.
Restlessness and whole-assing go together like peanut butter and jelly. Well, not as tasty, but just as useful.
A complication is that I'm not a single guy living by the seat of my pants. I'm married, have two kids, pay a mortgage, hold down a job, coach a girls' soccer team, and whatever else there is to do in this life. I'm not trapped by these things, but I'm not free and easy either.
So when I talk about restlessness, I know that my family worries that I'm complaining or blaming them for my condition. In the past, I have blamed them, but I was wrong then and I'm done with blame. Restlessness and the comfort of a family aren't opposed to one another. Reconciling them isn't easy, but it's far from impossible. What it mostly requires is communication.
That's what this essay really is: communication to my wife and kids. It says that I'm restless and that I want to be more. It's to let them know that I want more but am unwilling to lose anything important. I'm unsatisfied with the way things are not because things are bad but because we can have more. I want the love of my wife, the wonder of my children, the thrill of coaching girls' soccer, and so on. I just also want a porch or patio and a sense of adventure.
Like these front steps. They work. They get us in and out of the house. They even serve as a place to sit out and watch the world go by. Still, they could be a lot better. They could do more than just work. They could look gorgeous. And why shouldn't they? Why shouldn't we push for more in this life?
Restlessness is good. Restlessness leads me to write on and on and on.
Posted by Brian G. Fay