It’s Summer 2017, and the image flashes across my phone, as photos often do on our electronic devices these days. This one is a little out of the ordinary though, and I stop mid scroll, slowly absorbing the scene.
It’s a peaceful blend of pastel colors, inviting morning onto calm, still waters of a sleepy mountain lake, as pink and blue shades of dawn linger in a subtle, smoky fog over the horizon.
From a balcony view, I see dark shadows of green waking with the sun, dense tree lined shores in the distance, and soft, angled curves of a laptop computer perched on the patio table, far removed from fast paced rhythms of everyday life.
Ah. If only.
I imagine being tucked into a nearby corner, warm mug of tea in one hand, a lightweight blanket in the other, greeting the day with this sweet sense of stillness settling over me.
Except. A sudden pang I can’t quite identify gently deflates the lofty thought.
Envy? Jealousy? Longing? I turn each word over in my mind, not sure I really want to name the feeling. Not sure I want the unchecked desire to truly be examined.
Maybe you know what I’m talking about? That place where comparison threatens, and joy is fleeting?
It’s the place where current reality doesn’t measure up to the dreamy, waterfront office, so I shift focus instead.
It’s time to put the phone away, gather bags and keys, and make a mad, muddy dash to the car, dodging a steady drizzle of Florida rain.
The simple truth is this. At the moment, someone else’s life looks much more appealing than my own.
A peaceful morning on the lake perusing email and project updates, versus crowded, slippery interstates, and the gray confines of a busy office environment.
The picture represents freedom, and at the moment, I feel tethered to a spot I’d rather not be.
But…wait a minute.
I merge into traffic with the soft tick, tick, of my blinker, knowing deep down that reality doesn’t always come in pastel shades of inviting color, and I’m driving to a job I actually like, in spite of the sometimes chaotic moments.
Even more important, it’s a job I prayed for, and one that came my way in a surprising turn of events.
And with a soft exhale, I know it’s not something to be taken for granted.
The rest of the drive is thoughtful, travelling over dark, wet asphalt with a perspective shift reaching beyond the cloudy day.
It’s been awhile since feeling stuck in that tangle of comparison, but here’s what I did.
I made a mental list.
Because that always helps, right? 🙂
At first glance, the scattered pieces of my mind may have looked like the worn pages of an old, forgotten gratitude journal. And, in a way, I guess it was.
But this is the difference.
Instead of an itemized spreadsheet of the things for which I’m most thankful, I began to reflect on what I might miss if this current season of employment were over.
If that were me on the lake, fancy laptop and all (hypothetically speaking, of course 🙂 ),what would I fondly remember about the sometimes crazy pattern of right now?
The results looked something like this:
- A long commute over the river, especially on sunny days
- The quaint little café downstairs, serving up Starbucks menu options (Chai latte, please!)
- A large, well maintained campus with an eclectic blend of concrete and nature
- Strong peer camaraderie and support
- True laugh out loud moments
- A kind, generous and thoughtful boss
- Friday afternoon strolls with a close friend
- Large windows filtering bright sparks of sunlight
- A desk with a view
- Colorful crepe myrtles in full bloom
The list isn’t all inclusive, and maybe it even sounds trite in a big world full of complex issues.
But what if that’s just it?
What if it’s a simple approach that carries the missing link to finding and embracing joy filled days?
Because here’s what I know.
It helped me then, and it helps me now, especially when comparison knocks on the door of my heart, calling me to walk in step with discouragement and discontent.
But I’m learning that ordinary, mundane moments of duty and responsibility may always carry tiny treasures of beauty floating just below the surface.
And I want to discover them.
Will you join me?