Friday, August 27, 2010

The Life Of Contentment...

Today I attended a retirement party for one of my co-workers. She has worked for the same organization, doing exactly the same job, for 37 years. She's really a lovely woman, always smartly dressed, always pleasant -- the sort of person everyone likes. In his speech today, the Director said that he had never heard anyone say an unkind word about her, and that she had always been reliable in all the years he had known her.

In the ten years that I have known Gabrielle, she has always had the same expression on her face, and the same pleasant manner.  She is always happy, and today as I was looking at her during her retirement party, it occurred to me that Gabrielle's thermostat is permanently set at "medium" -- not too hot, not too cold -- just right.  She gives the impression that life has worked out for her just as she liked.  She's happily married, has two grown children with whom she has a perfect relationship, and she just seems to have a look of contentment all the time.  I think that's the reason folks like her -- she is always cheerful and positive, never moody.  I have not known many people like that in my life.  People are usually very complex, and Gabrielle is definitely not what anyone might call complex.  But she is content.  The question is, is Gabrielle content because life has been good to her, or has life been good to her because she is content?  How many of us are the authors of our own misfortunes, simply because we have not learned to be content?  How many of us have our thermostats turned too low, or too high?

Being satisfied with what life had to offer has served Gabrielle well.  Having a steady life not full of too many highs or lows seems to have been just the ticket for Gabrielle.  Perhaps it took a certain amount of discipline to stay the course like that.  We don't really know what someone else is thinking or feeling, and perhaps Gabrielle has been tempted many times to cut loose for parts unknown.  But she didn't, and I wonder if she realizes just how unique she is.  Perseverance is its own reward. ...

22 comments:

Kathryn said...

Oh, Jo. Ever to hit the nail on the head.

I'm at a content (mostly) place in my life. But i do know that many times before i was the cause, the "author of my discontent" even tho i never intended it to be so.

You are so very astute.

Have a lovely weekend. :)

Teri said...

I'm sure you've heard the saying "Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming 'WOW What a Ride!'"

I'll take my wild roller coaster of highs and lows life any day over smooth sailing know-what's-around-the-corner!!

My life isn't perfect but by golly it's interesting!!! LOL

SaraghAB said...

Must say, I agree with Teri. (Allow me to step on my soapbox here...) We don't learn through docility, we learn through challenge, failure, risks, and discovery. As far as I know, I've only got this one life, and by god I'm going to fill it up with as many experiences, as much beauty, as much passion and joy as I can.

One can't experience great achievement or intense fulfillment without having endured struggle and trials. You've got to TRY dammit! Sometimes that comes with making hard or selfish decisions, and maintaining balance is key, but maaaaaan – no disrespect to your co-worker, but working the same job for 37 years sounds like a minor form of hell to me...

I find that many people confuse contentment with complacency and resignation. Not for me. Nope. No way.

A human kind of human said...

"...is Gabrielle content because life has been good to her, or has life been good to her because she is content?" I think it is the latter part. I have often found that people who are stressed out (read: moody and frustrated) become so because of chasing after more all the time... a bigger car, a grander house, a smarter lifestyle... and what for? Of course, that is just my view and I am sure that other personalities would disagree, but please, if you do, do not take out your discontent and frustrations on me, who are content with what I have. (lol)

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Gabrielle sounds like the sort of person I would surely like but could never be like. I can't imagine staying in the same job for 37 years unless it was self-employment. My life has had many highs and lows and while I infinitely prefer the highs, I believe that I have learned more from the lows because I seem to learn more from pain than from contentment. Of course, no one will ever give me a lovely retirement party either.

June said...

"She gives the impression that life has worked out for her just as she liked. She's happily married, has two grown children with whom she has a perfect relationship..."

Gabrielle seems admirable to me. The happy marriage and the good relationship with two grown children doesn't just happen. Neither achievement comes without some measure of sturm und drang, but one needn't wear one's trials on one's face, particularly at one's place of employment, to have lived through those trials.

Surely I have not been able to be a Gabrielle, but being pleasant, reliable, and content with Life as it comes is an eminently worthy goal.

the walking man said...

Valium is a wonderful thermostat controller.

Linda said...

I am content in my life, for the most part. It took some doing, and some years, but life it pretty good. My hubby got the 'cured' word yesterday. We have a great relationship with our 3 kids, and grandchildren. And my twin sis is right across the street! Life is good! The Lord is GOOD!

Pauline said...

Perhaps her work life and her private life were vastly different. My Mama taught us to have a "company" face that didn't allow our more volatile feelings to show through.

Carla said...

Gabrielle reminds me of my older sister. By nature, she is happy & content. And life has been very good to her. But to her credit...she is a smart lady who has always used good judgement and made good choices. And then there's me. My life has been an emotional roller coaster. Huge highs and lows. And who's to bless and who's to blame? Me, of course.

mrsnesbitt said...

I too am with Teri - I am totally content but have a rather louder way of expressing it!One of the reasons I blog is to constantly take stock of my life and ensure I am enjoying every moment.

Dxx

DJan said...

Well, you can figure someone who has jumped out of an airplane more than 4000 times is a risk taker (and yes I am), but I worked in the same job for 30 years, although the job changed over the years and I took on more and more responsibility. I changed the job, the job didn't change me. And I am truly happy and content, but the road has been pretty bumpy along the way. Losing my two sons certainly were major bumps, but I am still a happy person. I think I was born that way.

Grandma Yellow Hair said...

Jo my friend I have missed coming by here.
Love this post and yes she is one of a kind.
If only we could all live our life at the even temp like she has lead hers. Everyone that has been lucky enough to be around her is blessed.
The way you wrote this post about her is lovely. I do hope you share it with her
Love and miss you
Maggie

Linda Myers said...

For a year or so before I retired I was pretty negative at work. I wish I could go back and do it like Gabrielle, with a positive, pleasant frame of mind. I'll just have to do it from now on!

The Bug said...

I was going to say that I'm pretty contenct, but I think that actually I'm complacent - it takes more trouble than it's worth to rock the boat. On the other hand, if I REALLY care about something I have no trouble rocking the boat. So am I settling because I pick my battles? Hmmm.

Single and Sane said...

Gabrielle sounds like an admirable woman. I would suggest that maybe she went home and kicked the dog, but over 37 years, I don't think she could have hidden such a passive-aggressive tendency from her coworkers. It's hard to hide who we really are from the people we work with. She must really be something.

RĂ³mulo Vela Cervantes said...

Brilliant post!!! excellent thinking, thanks to share!!!

Jennifer D said...

OH Jo...you are so smart.

I do try to be like Gabrielle.

My calender page for the month of Sept. reads "very little is needed to make a happy life;it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking." marcus aurelius

seems to be a theme going...

TomCat said...

She has a rare gift!

Nancy said...

I wouldn't fall into that category - unfortunately.

Paula Slade said...

Gabrielle is a rare person. You raised a thought provoking question Jo - "is Gabrielle content because life has been good to her, or has life been good to her because she is content?" New Age thinking tells us we manifest that which we dwell upon. Indeed,that is something to think about.

PhilipH said...

Your usual strong and thoughtful post Jo. I do hope your 'flu has flown! Your strange dreams about QEII were really surreal.

Now, about this retiree lady. She tends to sound 'too good to be true' but she was obviously a superb employee. One in a billion.

What, I wonder, will she be like now that her regular routines at the office have ceased. After 37 years in the same firm, doing very well each day, will she be at a loss? Or will she relish the freedom to use her time just as she wishes?

I hope she has a long and happy retirement and keeps her smiling and contented life for many years to come. Another 37? Could be!