We adopted two young cats almost a week ago and they have already escaped through a hole in a window. They were in a warm room with food, water and a soft bed. Maybe something scared them into flight. It's so curious to me that they would leave food and shelter and go into the night.
On a similar note, we built an entire fence around our yard so our free-ranging chickens would not go into the woods. In the woods, they have predators who eat them. The chickens do not seem to worry about bobcats or racoons. For some reason, they just want to leave our safety and wander, explore, see what is beyond. Like the cats, their nature expels them from shelter to unknown, possible danger.
I am sure you are already guessing my parallel. Why can contentment be so elusive, so hard to hang onto? Most of us try to live in the moment, be present, practice gratitude (all good things!) and yet, we are often propelled into thinking about the choices we didn't make, the path we didn't take. We will leave our warm, comfortable places when we see a hole in a window, a gap in a fence. The unknown has danger for us; not a bobcat but other kinds of loss, mistakes, missteps. And yet, we are drawn to what we have not yet known, or done, or places we have not yet gone.
Over the past two years, I have discovered a natural world that is very different for me, slower, less random, more connected, I have left some comfort for what I knew would be hard, at times, but worth the risk. I don't mean just living in the country but living with change, intentionally making choices that force you face the unknown.
Henry David Thoreau seemed to understand this precisely. His advice still stands true today, as we seek to reconcile contentment through discontent:
“Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.”