Dear Friend,

I’ve all but given up on feeling bad for a lack of writing regularly. Perhaps the shift is but part of what I’ve been thinking about recently. Contentedness.

I was at lunch with my coworkers the other day, and someone asked me where I wanted to be in 30 years. My first instinct was to think “HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO KNOW?” followed by a mental run-through of the potential “career paths” I could follow. But not three minutes earlier, someone else had mentioned how they remembered someone who said he wanted to “get married, have kids, and be happy” when he was asked about his long-term goals… and I couldn’t help but think, that’s the type of goal I want in my life. So when the question was turned towards me, I took a moment and struggled through the instinctive desire to talk about work-related goals (Why is it that that’s our first thought? I mean seriously!) and talked myself through what 30 years really meant.

It started a bit rough “well, uh… In 30 years I’d be 53, so… I guess that would mean… wow, 53? That’s older than my parents!”

(Not to imply that my parents are old, but rather the idea of trying to figure what I want when I’m older than they are now…)

After the mental mumbling what I settled on was: “I hope that 30 years from now, I can say that I have been a good parent. That I trust my children to make their own decisions because I feel secure that my husband and I have taught them well. That they have learned to love those around them and to love themselves.”

I think this is, in many ways, how I hope my parents feel about me, especially since I’ve now moved out of the house and out of Harrisonburg, to live in Washington DC full time. Beyond that, however, stating this as a goal has been SCARY. Stating something, just saying it aloud, has an uncanny ability to make the statement seem more real or true. Yes, this is something I’ve known that I want out of life… but saying it freaked me out a bit.

I am NOWHERE near that goal. Yes, I realize that this is a 30-years-in-the-future goal, but most goals are about progress. If you ever look for advice on making goals, the first tips (rules, really) tell you to make specific, measurable and realistic goals. This goal does not follow that advice, but it’s still there. This isn’t the kind of goal you can reach by taking certain steps or laying out a plan. In fact, as a young person who has no real experience in marriage or child-raising, I going to take a leap based on observation and say that laying out a specific plan is more likely to become an obstacle than it is to be helpful.

I want to feel like I’m headed in that direction. I want to know that I WILL get to that place. But there really is no way to know. What if I never get married? What if I don’t have kids? What if I’m not even alive in 30 years because zombies have taken over the planet?! Who knows? There very few promises that life can offer, and answers are not among them.

This goal will be in the back of my mind, but I’ve also been realizing that I need to focus elsewhere or the goal stops being a positive aspect of my hopeful future, and becomes a negative aspect of my right-now. I want to feel content with where I am. If being an amazing parent to grown children is my 30-Year goal, contentedness is my “Right Now” goal. Right now, I am in a good place! I have a home to live in and food to eat. Not only that, I get to work for an organization I love, with people I care about, in a beautiful city. I want to be able to be more than just “ok” with where I am, without giving up on improvement or change. To keep seeking, while remaining fully present in the moment… To feel content.

Lots of Love, Mandi Jo