Hunting Contentment

As I’ve written about in previous posts, the direction of my life has taken some drastic detours this past year. These unexpected changes come from circumstances that were out of my control, but also from decisions I’ve made and certain things that I decided to pursue. As I reflect back on everything it’s really interesting to compare the active versus the reactive decisions I made. In some cases there was something or someone in front of me that I wanted to pursue so I did what I felt I needed to do and I sacrificed certain things in order to pursue those opportunities. In other cases I had opportunities not work out and I was forced to make a reactive decision to go a different direction.

Regardless of if my decisions were reactive or if they were active, everything that happened got to where I am right now. And I’ll be honest, I still catch myself wondering “how the heck did I end up here?” I mean I live in Oregon right now and I’m fighting wildfires. Like what haha. It’s still so crazy to me but it’s also super exciting. There were moments when I was out on the Days Coffee Fire where reality really hit me. A few times I just took a pause to let the entire experience sink in. The sound of the helicopters doing bucket drops echoed off each mountain ridge. The feeling of my hands gripping my wooden tool handle. The weight of my pack on my shoulders. The smoke from the fire blowing into my face. In those moments there was nowhere I would have rather been. I was physically and mentally exhausted from the work but at the same time I felt so alive. I felt challenged. I felt strong. I felt content.

Honestly, part of me likes that I’m in a position in life where I can do something crazy like pack up and move to Oregon to fight wildfires. I like that sense of freedom that comes with me being able to take risks and try something new to pursue. But then there are moments like right now where I’m just sitting at a Starbucks waiting for a fire call, wondering “what the heck am I doing here?” My hunt for contentment seems to fluctuate on a day to day basis, and sometimes it’ll be up and down in the same day. It’s like I’m torn between a path of adventure and a path of stability. The last time I really felt like I was in a stable place was back in 2016 when I was living in Birmingham, before I took the job with the Royals. After that my life has literally been all over the place. I miss how I was able to have consistent relationships there and a consistent place to call home. And I miss having a dog more than anything, tbh haha. I like torturing myself apparently because I’m always going on the humane society's website looking at pups to adopt even though I’m in no position to adopt one right now.

I miss that lifestyle and the comfort that it brings. I feel like I’m so torn with all this because I feel so ready to settle down. I feel like I’m strong enough, mature enough, and responsible enough to fully invest myself in someone else. I have friends who are settled down, starting families, and it’s hard not to see that and feel like I’m missing out. Aside from that I’m just ready to put roots down somewhere. Part of me is just ready to stop moving all over the country. And at this point it even feels like I’m missing out when I see people with a seemingly clear direction with their career and what they want to do because that used to be me. But above my cravings for stability, my occasional feelings that I’m missing out, and my desire to get another pup to name Smalls and have her be my best friend, I do know that all that stuff is coming with time. And I know that even though that’s not where I’m at right now, I’m still in a really good place.

Recently, on a phone call, my mom helped me gain this perspective because she’s amazing and she just does amazing things like that. While the craziness of moving all over the country the last few years, having different jobs, and pursuing all sorts of things has been challenging in a lot of ways, my mom reminded me of how lucky I am to have experienced everything I have.

The list could go on and on but even just touching on the highlights is pretty dang cool. I worked for my hometown baseball team, the Royals. I explored the Grand Canyon, Zion, and Yosemite. I crashed my mountain bike in Arizona. I drove through the hills of Wyoming with Cody Johnson blaring through the stereo. I did a photo shoot for an outdoor retail store in Alabama. I camped in the mountains of Colorado and woke up to a fresh coat of snow on the ground. I sipped coffee on the beaches of Southern California. And now I can add I fought a wildfire in Southern Oregon to the list.

My mom reminded me that I’ve done and accomplished so much. I’ve built relationships with and invested in people all over the country. I’ve seen God provide community everywhere I’ve lived. I’ve learned how to fight for things and people that I love, but I’ve also learned how to slow down and take a step back when needed. I’ve been challenged in so, so many ways. I’ve grown as a leader and as a communicator, I’ve matured as a man by gaining strength and self-awareness, and I’ve explored some of the most amazing things/places that life has to offer.

Although this personal battle between adventure and stability is very real, I am content with where I’m at. I know the settling down phase is coming at some point, and I’ll be very happy when I do get a lifelong partner to pursue and go on adventures with, but I’m going to enjoy the heck out of this phase, and the freedom to explore and pursue new, exciting things while I’m in it. I know that at this moment I’m right where I’m supposed to be and I’m thankful that this crazy, all over the place lifestyle has allowed me to experience everything that I have. It’s shown me that being content in a healthy way means that it’s ok to not be 100% content with everything always. That contentment isn’t a destination. It’s something that I’m constantly hunting and it changes as the seasons of my life change. That contentment is a balance between gratefulness and patience, with trust that I’m currently where I’m supposed to be and that in the future I’ll be right where I want to be.