Am I happy today, I’d rather be content. Contentment, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about this and whether in this precarious time I should be.
With COVID-19 hanging over me I’m wondering if I ought to be worried, frightened or apprehensive. Hundreds of people are dying every day and I can’t see my family, hug my grandchildren or spend precious time with my Mum and Dad. I can’t go shopping or have a haircut, so should I really be feeling the quiet contentment that I’m finding myself in. So then I started thinking about the condition that I’m experiencing and how I have got here.
Is contentment a characteristic we’re born with? Is this something that we lose as we grow? As a child I didn’t need much or desire more than I could aim for. Somewhere, somehow I discovered that the world offered more than I knew about. As I found out more I wanted more. When, as a child I would ask for a book for my birthday, I’m now in a position to buy more books than I can read, but do I need them? How many books can I read at a time? Whatever happened to the library? For me I know I should be feeling bad but I’m not hankering after an expensive holiday anymore. I’ve had some great experiences, but all I really want at this moment is to give my grandchildren a great big kiss and to feel them in my arms. I can’t remember the last time I felt some physical contact with another person. Suddenly my needs are less than at any other time in my adult life. I feel as if I have been transported back 50 years to a time when my world was much smaller and I knew less. My grandparents always appeared content. To travel to far flung places wasn’t in their remit and I feel, looking back, that the expectations in their lives were not as demanding. Could it have been because of the Second World War and their gratitude that they and their families had got through it relatively unscathed?
I can see the similarity between the War and our current battle against COVID-19. My fears for entertainment, hospitality and travel might be unfounded in the future, however, my contentment can be found in little things, like growing salad in my garden and looking at clear blue skies and listening to birdsong. My contentedness comes from my sole foxglove and my plans for developing a bed of them such as the bed in the garden of a lovely old couple that I used to visit as a child in Abbots-Ann. Jess and Ethel Threadgill were the epitome of what I now desire. I remember with great fondness everything about those times. Bone china teacups and saucers of course, their dog and their lovely rolling green lush lawns. The great bank of foxgloves, which we were consistently warned of their toxicity. The colours and the great height of the bell-shaped blooms were amazing to a child.
I’m content in my garden plotting out my bed of fox gloves rather than planning another exotic excursion.
If I have learned anything from the virus it is that my needs are less than I expected.