Compromise and contentment

When I was a world and life weary 55 year old, a friend who had know me since I was an annoying, idealistic, high-minded 23 year old, said “So you finally learned to compromise – just like the rest of us.”  A depressing realization.  Compromising, practical and pragmatic were not traits I had ever aspired to.

I am okay with practical and pragmatic – I don’t have the time or energy for doing things the hard way; no patience for ifs, ands, buts, excuses, or woulda, coulda, shoulda. Suck it up and shut up or do something about it.  Oh wait, you say I am guilty of all of these things? Yes, I’m only human after all. I try to get passed it as quickly as possible and move on to ‘do something about it’.

That is where the dreaded compromise comes in. Doing something about it. The doing is not always easy, or even possible so you have to compromise and be content. I’m not talking about high-flying notions here, I can’t save the world and I wouldn’t even try.

I hate ‘content’ – it carries such a negative meaning for me.  To be content is to be satisfied with less. It’s okay; It’ll do. Maybe. So the cake is a little lopsided it still tastes good. I’ll give you that one but next time? Perhaps a little more effort and a not so lopsided cake?

What about what you really want – in a practical sort of way. I’m not talking about ridiculous airy-fairy (I want to be a singer in a rock ‘n roll band) – I’m talking about doable if you put in the effort as opposed to not a snowball’s chance in hell (I want to be a singer in a rock ‘n roll band).

I’ve learned to compromise, choosing the best of all the practical, possible possibilities but I will not be content with it. Contentment means defeat to me. It means I have stopped trying; stopped dreaming practical dreams. Yes there are practical dreams, the ones that with time and effort are achievable.  Or you can just be content with who you are and what you have. Yes, know your real limitations but don’t give up on your potential; what you can be, what you can have.

“Grace, why do you always want more and better, can’t you be content with what is?” I am asked. And no, I can’t. Not with everything.  I do not want to die content. I want to die still trying to achieve some practical dream. Still plotting and planning and working towards better and more.

To be and do to the very best of your abilities and be good with that – maybe that is a form of contentment – and that kind of contentment I probably could be okay with…but if there is any chance of more and better – then I want it.

I refuse to stop bouncing in my seat. I refuse to stop getting hot under the collar. I refuse to say it’ll do, when I can do better. 

While I am not totally inured to compromise, that is something I want less of.  I refuse to be content. I refuse to stop looking up and onward.  So there…

Addendum number 543 kabillion: What is the difference between satisfied and content? The dictionary says they are synonymous but they aren’t – not to me. But I did find this: “To be content does not necessarily imply “happiness” or “satisfaction” – it means that you are at peace with the circumstances.”  I would add ‘at the moment’. If I think about this long enough I will drive myself crazy.

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