I've been a malcontent the last several months, even though things have been going rather well: my book, Shaken in the Water, is out, I was nominated for a Pushcart Prize for an essay in Bellevue Literary Review, and I had an awesome reading in Brooklyn at the venerable BookCourt.
My brother, David, and I agree that it's in our blood to be unsatisfied with our lot. To always think: if only this happened, I'd be happy. Maybe that's what brought our Mennonite family from the groves of the Ukraine to the deserts of Kansas to escape Russian assimilation and eventual persecution. Maybe it's saved us from time to time, but I feel it's more of a curse than anything else for me.
Only a year and some change ago it was for my book to be accepted for publication. Now I want it to sell well. I want people other than my friends and family to like it. I want to complete another book, but the busyness of my wonderful job is stopping it. Now I want another wonderful job that will allow that.
When we lived in New York, we wanted more money. We weren't exactly paycheck-to-paycheck poor, but we were close. In Harrisonburg we have money, but I want to return to New York. We have the friends we were lonely for in the city, but the streets of New York still call to me every time I visit. Whether they are a Siren song or something more life-giving is unknown.
One of my friends has referred to her present house her "forever home." Most of my friends in Harrisonburg own houses. They seem fairly content to contemplate growing old here. At times I am jealous of their commitment and contentment to this city.
Can one learn to be content wherever one is? Or is it a good thing that just has to be controlled, only to be whipped out when persecution rises?