Have you ever had two polar opposite feelings tugging at you at the same time?
Over the past few years, I’ve had a great deal of disappointment as I’ve struggled from one failed dream after another. It’s been a long, difficult, uphill road as I’ve worked to find a place and a career where I can put down roots. I have felt this tugging, this yearning, to be living in another part of the world and engaged in a writing career, but life has put up obstacle after obstacle as I have tried to make that dream come true.
Yet this desire to be somewhere else has often distracted me from appreciating the life I’m living and the beautiful places surrounding me. While I have yearned, planned, desired and dreamed, I have often missed seeing what I already had.
Just the other day, for example, I felt this strong need to just drive somewhere I had not been and see something different. I drove 20 minutes in one direction and ran straight into charming small-town America. I followed a road running up a hillside almost as far as it would go. It lead me straight into a farmer’s field. I hesitated as I parked my car. I was on someone else’s land, but it was just an old dirt track, and I figured that the farmer wouldn’t mind if I just took a stroll and a few photos.
I climbed up the hill a little and then turned around. The valley lay before me in the summer sun. Different patches of green and brown played across the vista of rolling hills. Small ponds and watered fields shimmered in the afternoon sun. A brief rainstorm had swept through earlier that day. The wind on the hillside was so refreshing that I took a deep breath of the cleanliness of it all and let it all out. With that breath, I also let go of the discontent, anxiety and frustration I was feeling.
Nearby, I heard the cry of an eagle and looked up to see it gliding over the recently cut hay. As I stood there listening to it’s call, feeling the wind toss my hair and the rays of the sun warm my skin, I felt peace and contentment. I felt joy and energy sweep away the negativity.
Eventually the farmer did come wandering along his dirt road and asked me in a friendly manner if I was ok. I showed him my camera and asked permission to take landscape photos. He quickly agreed. We had a genial conversation and he waved a friendly goodbye as he was off to feed his cattle for the evening.
I stood there watching him go and marveled at how different this place was to so many other places I had been in the world. So there were still places where trust, simplicity and sincere friendliness existed. What a gift! This stranger was not concerned that I would do any damage to his fields, he was more concerned that I was in need of assistance.
That afternoon, I learned two very distinct lessons. The first lesson I learned was to stop being so cynical and realize that kindness, generosity and a sincere desire for another’s welfare still exists in the human race. It might seem rarer than it once did, but it is still there.
The second lesson was that in all of our dreaming and goal-making, we also need to appreciate what is in front of us. Friendship, beauty and meaning can be found in any place in the world if we seek it out.
Does this mean that I will stop yearning or dreaming? No…but I will stop spending so much time wishing for what could be and instead just enjoy what is.