I left Love and Theft in 2010 and walked straight out of a living daydream and into a cloud of uncertainty.
Not long before I had purchased a new house in a wonderful area in Nashville called Hillsboro Village, and my wife Kelly and I, newly married, lived there with our baby boy Oliver and a cat named Paul.
With that career move (that’s a pretty generous term) came a significant pay cut, so we moved out of that house and into a rental on the west side of town, an old 60’s built ranch home on the side of a hill, with stained carpet, lime green linoleum and pink tile in the bathroom.
Then, I was robbed of 4 years of contentment.
Well, to say I was robbed makes it sound like someone else robbed me. They didn’t. I robbed myself.
For at least 4 years I lived in a state of waiting, of anticipating, believing whole heartedly that the next significant transition was going to be the one that made it all okay, that brought it all full circle and finally ushered in an era of contentment. I just knew we were so close to finally arriving.
First, we were waiting for the right job to open up, certain that somehow my relationships in the industry would help open the door to writing for a publisher or producing song demos.
Next we were waiting for my rock band, The Low Down, to gain some traction, for a booking agent we were talking with to start helping us push forward and give significance to my life and work again.
Then we were waiting for Kelly to finish grad school.
And finally, we were waiting to leave behind the pink-tiled bathroom and deafeningly creaky floors, and to move into a home that we loved.
I was convinced that if I could just put my family into a home that I was proud of, finally it would all fall into place.
Now I’m sitting at our dining room table in a house that we bought in October down in Franklin, TN. It’s a fantastic house. I love it.
The floor plan and living area are very open, with skylights that let in a deluge of natural light. There is white subway tile as the kitchen backsplash, and a master suite with a big ole closet—no more keeping my hanging clothes in Oliver’s bedroom at the other end of the house.
The yard is almost a half-acre, and flat and green, and there’s a deck and a basketball hoop, and the garage actually faces away from the street!
I love this house. Now that we’ve moved in here—finally—everything is as it should be. Everything makes sense. We’ve arrived at our destination. No more struggle, no more frustration, no more waiting.
Except that… that’s not true.
Now I’m thinking of a bigger house that we may own some day with a more open kitchen. A bigger house where the neighbor’s dogs are so far away that it doesn’t matter if they bark. A newer house with a finished office space for me.
Or maybe of paying off this house completely, hitting some financial benchmark that marks our true arrival.
And I’m still running into frustrations in my work—believe it or not, everyone doesn’t suddenly do exactly what I want them to do all the time. I do enjoy my job, but it isn’t problem-free.
In fact, I’m waiting in that realm as well: waiting to hire more agents, to expand my team and my income. Waiting to expand into other cities or sell a certain rental property and try my hand at development.
Again, waiting for what I’m certain is the lynch pin to full-on happiness, finally!
At long last, however, I see the foolishness, and I see the folly.
I waited and waited, looking ever forward, fixated upon the future, refusing to be content, until we could again buy a house that was our home, a house that matched who I believed we were and what I believed we deserved (that’s another post for another time), certain that when we finally got that house, only then would I finally be content.
I’m in that house now.
And I daily wrestle with discontentment. I’ve realized that this house wasn’t the final piece of the contentment puzzle. This house wasn’t the answer to the big question.
This house, as much as I do love it, is just a house. It’s a stack of rock and wood and nail and tile and drywall.
It was when I finally realized this—that the problem with my discontentment wasn’t in the home I inhabited, but instead was in my own perspective—that I realized to my chagrin that I’d lost almost 5 years.
I spent those years convinced that the answer was around the corner, that some mystical time where everything fell into place was only a house away, a job away, a bank account away.
I lived in willful ignorance of the present and what it had to offer, focused on my anticipation of the future that existed in my imagination. But all around, the present was offering me plenty: a beautiful wife playing on the floor with a sweet boy with a little plastic helmet on his head. New friendships, special times with family members I loved, long runs at the Warner Parks, awesome Friday nights eating pizza and drinking margaritas with our neighbors.
When I found myself in our new house, and recognized that I was indulging the same feeling of discontent as I had only a couple months before, I realized that it wasn’t the house that was falling short—it was my view of the present.
There is no magical land where it never storms and everyone agrees at all times. There is no moment coming up that offers total peace, utter lack of strife or conflict. So quit waiting for it. It doesn’t exist.
Instead, realize that you can proactively appreciate and enjoy the present, with all its irritations. The future will get here when it’s supposed to, whether you fixate on it or not.
As for me, I’m going to quit waiting for more and better, and begin believing that today is good, that today is enough for today.
In the comments below, share something that you’re thankful for today, share one reason why today is good enough.