This is an excerpt of a short book in progress about Satisfaction. It has been in the works for some time but it can be considered a Son of quarantine:).
Satisfaction in the short and long term has many sources and benefits. What is being highlighted here is that we are all capable of and responsible for our own Satisfaction in the ongoing stages of life, evolving relationships and variety of experiences.
I had some interesting and challenging jobs during the school year at university. I went to a small college so the students could work as Campus Police part time. Nowadays you see those bigger schools where they have ex-military patrolling the grounds looking for someone to beat on. I would stay up all night and do my rounds checking doors telling my friends to be quiet and then ask them to please take me seriously as a Campus Police. I would climb stairs and then write in the log book that I told rabble rousers to pipe down and that I had climbed stairs. I am a great sleeper so I would catch a few winks sitting in the Campus Police office around 4 or 5 am and finish my shift at 7 am. Good gig for a little spending money.
When I lived off campus I took a job where I functioned as the part-time eyes for an old, blind man. I saw his ad at the student employment centre in February and got started on a weekly basis. If he didn’t need me the following Sunday he would then just call every so often I would bike over to a house that he owned but no one lived in that I could tell. I doubt he lived upstairs because the smell each time I came in was of the cold, undisturbed air of night. Not air that carried the baggage of habits of watching television in the front room or routines of cooking. The old house was in a great neighbourhood with lots of trees and sizable yards. His place was full of building materials like 2 x 4s, flooring and doors.
The place was to be fixed up. Maybe if his sight came back. Maybe by a son who didn’t have the time or desire. He knew where everything was and how many there were. In the musty basement he would direct
“Do you see those 2 x 4’s piled in the corner? Grab them and move them to the main room upstairs and pile them along the wall. When we get there I will tell you where I want them.” I did exactly what he asked and did not question his requests or logistical specifications. The old man would hesitate when I would say – ‘Ok that’s done. What’s next?’ He knew what he wanted but had to rely on me to make it happen. Kind of like I was his experimental robot in early Artificial Intelligence.
I always arrived on time but he always seemed to be waiting. It’s not that I was late. Perhaps it was that he was dependent upon me and my young vision that made him impatient. Because he really didn’t want to need me. He was old but pretty mobile. It was usually early afternoon when we finished up. As I put on my jacket he would say thanks, ask again to confirm some detail of the work I had done, and count out my pay in blue, five dollar bills. I don’t think he liked paying me to compensate for his blindness but considering the situation I think he liked being the one in control of this interaction. He knew all his bills were five dollars each. He knew how many he had, in which pocket. He would check his tactile watch to calculate the time and then separate out each of the bills one at a time. The bills were in front of him but he would turn his head to the side and up a bit as he counted. He would put the remaining blue bills back in the same pocket. Count out my pay, ask me to confirm it was correct and send me on my way.
Satisfaction is a life companion. Sometimes we can feel no distance between our need for Satisfaction and daily life. At other times, stages in life, we can be grasping at it like it was a feather blowing in the wind.
If you don’t know what you want, you will probably get what you don’t want. Which means you get what someone else wants. That someone else can be a colleague, neighbour, sibling, parent, boss, client, religious mentor, YouTube star, salesperson, waiter, child or spouse. That someone may have altruistic reasons for including your efforts in getting what they want out of life. Or they may be using you much like they use a hairdryer or lawnmower. Unappreciative of how you work and angry when you don’t (because they didn’t take care of you).
Whether your experiences of supporting someone else’s goals are fun or repulsive you can apply the learning points inward and find a few ways of injecting your daily life with direction. Directing your thinking towards growing your success of getting what you want.
Growing my success gives me a sense of satisfaction. Satisfaction is universal in its need and uniquely individual in its expressions. Our bodies function on satisfaction. The Ego needs satisfaction. We want satisfaction. The soul generates Satisfaction.
We are responsible for our Personal Satisfaction. Our spouse is not. When life throws us a curveball we can’t take it out on our relationships (marriage, children, parents). When life shows us we didn’t prepare enough for life challenges of making money, dealing with people or staying healthy it is wrong to make our spouse pay for it because we have reached our limit for stress. We are responsible for our emotions.
Yes your wife is asking (nagging) about what you had for lunch because she is worried about your weight so you don’t have a heart attack like your dad and then can’t work to support your family. She doesn’t make you angry. It is managing emotions that gets us into trouble.
Maybe what you already do gives you satisfaction. Sometimes it is to find simple satisfactions. There is value in simple that can easily be overlooked when we feel we have a lot of stress and responsibility and not much wiggle room to come through with results. As cheesy as it sounds it is useful to realize we are showing resilience by putting up with a bad manager at work; we are providing constancy by still driving that 11 year old smelly car; we are following through on commitments by keeping a roof over everyone’s head.
We all want more money. Driving a sporty new car with that new car smell can relieve deliver some Satisfaction in the competition of making money. If it makes life easier then do the work to make the money to buy the car. In the meantime find the satisfaction in the moment to share with your family while inside you know you want more. You want better. That’s your challenge. Welcome to it. Share the challenge. Share the stress of the challenge. Just don’t hit, insult, threaten or withhold from your loved ones when you share. You love your family and are loved by your family. In daily life it isn’t too easy to feel the love with all the arguments and emotions and misunderstandings.
And when you get to your limit what do you do? Does your spouse know what you are going to do? What do you want to do when you get to your limit today or tomorrow of your patience or understanding, or feeling of being appreciated, or get to your limit of knowing how to express your love in trying economic times.
Those are your limits. Maybe not your spouse’s limits. Maybe not your children’s limits. Maybe those limits were put there a long time ago. By a small boy who needed guidance to grow into a young man. Or a young man who had trouble finding his confidence. Now those limits are being faithfully adhered to by a middle aged man who is being nudged by some weird feeling in this stage in life but is limited by his own history. Limited in his ability to ask (dumb) questions and deal with the response. Limited in being vulnerable in front of his wife or children because he might cry or need help.
Vulnerability is part of life. Violence is not. Being responsible to know our limits and find ways to manage them or possibly extend them is part of life. Using guilt instead of honesty is not a part of living. That is an act of diminishing what a man and woman are capable of being together. Emotional agility is part of a man’s life in every stage. When he is young he can laugh, cry, be sad and feel proud of himself. When a man is middle aged and then an elder he has the same liberty. Age is not a limit on emotional agility. The rich cry. The poor laugh. The middle class feel sad. It’s not about the money. It’s about you and your response to life in the moment. You are powered by the residue of previous successes in finding a path forward with dignity for all. Your response petitions your spouse to bring her versatility to the situation. You companion each other in success, challenge, failure and learning.
Why? Because that is what you want.
If this was interesting then there are other posts on this blog that you may like: