Raising the bar

At the end of a birthday weekend I’m feeling pretty content. When I was young and hungry I used to think that content was the enemy of achievement. I didn’t want to be content. I wanted to be perpetually striving, to be forever trying to do and be more. I figured if you were content it meant that you were happy to accept the status quo. It made you fat and lazy, and probably pretty boring too. I was too aggro to cop any of that.

I’m older now and I still believe in striving and growing, but I also figure you can come at it from a position of contentment. What I failed to recognise when I was young is that there is a difference between self and circumstance. When I was young they seemed tied up together, my self determined by my circumstance – ergo, I could never be happy without the circumstantial justification of it. I needed in a sense to achieve and continue to achieve in order to validate my identity. I’ve moved beyond that now.

My circumstances are still a long way from what I desire, but in myself I have managed a quasi-serenity unlike anything I can recall for many years. This has flowed from the decision I made earlier this year, which basically was to let go of the story that was holding me back and to choose another story.

I’ve always thought of myself as positive by nature, and felt it was essential in surviving the trials of homelessness and unemployment. I think now that much of what was positive about me was born out of innate pig-headedness – I was never going to allow for a situation or a person to dictate to me my fate. That is mine alone, and I choose not to lose.

In its way it’s admirable, but it depended less on what could be and more on what I chose to defy. It was a perspective born of pugnacity.

Am I about to become less pugnacious? I don’t know. I tend to think that I am basically the same person as ever, just that I’ve opened up a little and shifted my perspective by a degree or two. It’s amazing how such little things can wring such changes in outlook – and what a difference those changes make.

I was busy over the weekend celebrating Cheeseboy’s birthday on Friday drinking and eating in the city; and celebrating mine last night with a barbecue on Hampton beach. At the end of it I came home and I came to post something on Facebook that seems the very essence of what I’m experiencing.

I need both poetry and the intellect in my live, need to be both moved and provoked. These are essential elements of who I am. I admitted to the need to play up occasionally, to play both the lair and larrikin when it suits. And into that mix come my friendships, which feel pretty rich right now. I concluded by proclaiming that I was likely the happiest I’d been for many years.

I am content in myself, in the man I am, and my expectations. I have expectations, and I still want to strive. The order of things has reversed from before. I am the man I want to be regardless of my circumstances. As that man I seek more, and it feels true because it stems directly from me. I set myself goals before, and constraints, none of which fit me in this version. I am put in mind of some of my juvenile reading, particularly that of Herman Hesse, who was big in his writings in achieving an elevated state of being from which everything then flowed.

Put simply I know what I want to feel, but think if I stay the course it will come to be. I realise now that I was held back from progressing before because I had fed myself a story about what was reasonable, and it was inhibiting my self. I’ve let that go. I’m content with who I am, but want to raise the bar on who I can be and where my expectations can lead me. I am now this person going forward, rather than the person I was held back by the time before.

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