Scrolling through Instagram one day, I realized that the feed that I so diligently limited to people I really cared about seemed to be shrinking under the volume of ads. The “gravity defying” sports bra, anti-aging magic cream, fountain of youth elixir, tools for creating the world’s greatest selfie and the list went on.
What became shocking was how many times I was checking out an adorable picture of my niece or a video of my nephew practicing his soccer skills, then, bam!, three minutes later, my brain was telling me that I could permanently remove my neck wrinkles with the power of a super-cream! “Could that actually work?” I considered pensively.
We live in an instant-world. Instant coffee, instant photos, insta… gram. What happened to contentment? According to Merriam-Webster, contentment is: “the quality or state of being contented.” Contented: “feeling or showing satisfaction with one’s possessions, status, or situation.” When was the last time you felt truly contented?
Being content used to be a virtue. Oh man, that makes me feel like a Granny, complaining about how the world has changed. I understand that, nowadays, contentment can be seen as a buzzword for apathy, for turning a blind eye, for being satisfied with the status quo. That doesn’t work in today’s political climate and I don’t suggest that it should. Still, however ambitious, however driven, however “girl/boy boss” you are, could there be a piece missing? When does the striving cease? There is a point at which the human soul must come to rest.
Last night, a movie I was watching finished and I left the TV on. Suddenly I found myself enraptured with a sort of vacuous twilight zone called, “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills”. Someone who once resembled Denise Richards was agitated that her teenaged daughter had called her out for her loud laughter over a threesome. I she waggled her finger at her “bad influence” friends. I was captivated by her face. Paralyzed as it was, I couldn’t tell if the Wild Things actress was really angry. Why did it appear to hurt to speak through her protruding lips? I was captivated, I couldn’t look away.
She was one of the most stunning actresses in her prime. Now, plastic surgery has stolen all traces of “aging gracefully.” Every day on social media, I am told the same thing about myself: you’re not pretty enough, “old” isn’t beautiful, your lips are too thin and your eyebrows move too much when you talk and the Mariana Trench on your forehead… giiirrl! Do something about that!
My mom just turned 69, and I think she’s still beautiful. Her hair is coming in a classy white-silver colour and my Dad still calls her, “the prettiest girl he has ever seen”.
For a moment, let’s just close our eyes, take a deep breath, and think about what it would feel like to stop striving. No, not give up all your goals. Just to rest. To look in the mirror and see someone complete and not lacking in anything. Grateful for who we are and proud of those hard-earned wrinkles—especially the ones made from smiles and laughter and empathy and joy. Would the ads streaming constantly past our pupils shrink to nothing with our disengagement?
I scroll back to my beautiful niece on Instagram. She just got her long, thick, rich brown locks chopped to donate to Wigs for Kids. I’m so thankful that she is being raised to resist vanity in the name of greater good. My heart would be set at ease if I knew she could look in the mirror with her pixie cut bob and see nothing but pure perfection. A powerful young girl, not lacking in anything.
I am so grateful. And gratitude may just be discontentment’s instant fix.