“…that live down the street.  Got a good looking woman with her arms ’round me.  Here in a small town where it feels like home, I got everything I need- homegrown-and nothing that I don’t- homegrown…It’s the weight that you carry from the things you think you want.  It’s the weight that you carry from the things you think you want.  Weight you carry.  It’s the weight that you carry from the things you think you want.  It’s the weight that you carry from the things you think you want.  I got everything I need, nothing that I don’t.  Homegrown.  Everything I need, nothing that I don’t.  Homegrown.  Everything I need, nothing that I don’t.  Homegrown.  Oh, everything I need and nothing that I don’t.  Homegrown.”

Lord have mercy, how amazing does that sound?

“Everything I need, nothing that I don’t.”

Zac Brown and company nailed it with this song.  NAILED. IT.

This is the dream, right?  To find the sense of contentment ole ZBB croons about.

I’ve been thinking a lot about contentment lately.  I posted this article (Just click on the word “article” to read the whole thing!) on One Organized Girl’s Facebook page not too long ago and I want to reference it again.  The title of it is “Why I Gave Up a $95,000 Job to Move to An Island and Scoop Ice Cream” and here’s an excerpt from it-

One day I was working on my laptop, finishing some edits on a book I’d just written. I was distracted, wondering what I would do now that the manuscript was finished. While I had several job offers, none of them excited me. I let my hands idle too long and the screensaver, a stock photo of a tropical scene, popped up. Here was something to get excited about. What I wanted — something I’d fantasized about for years, in fact — was to stop living in front of a screen and live in that screen, in the photo on my computer. And why couldn’t I? With no professional obligations or boyfriend, I was completely untethered for the first time in my life.

Feeling slightly ridiculous, I posted a message on Facebook saying that I wanted to move to the Caribbean, and asking for suggestions as to where I should go. A friend’s sister recommended St. John, the smallest of the U.S. Virgin Islands. Nicknamed “Love City” for its famously friendly locals, it was home to some of the most stunning beaches in the world. I glanced out my window where punishing, chest-high snow drifts were forming on the ground at an alarming rate. On the sidewalks impatient and preoccupied New Yorkers bumped into each other without apology. I immediately began expediting my passport.

It was startlingly simple to dismantle the life I’d spent a decade building: I broke the lease on my apartment, sold my belongings, and bought a one-way plane ticket. The hardest part was convincing myself it was OK to do something for no other reason than to change the narrative of my life.

“You can’t just move to a place you’ve never even visited!” my mom protested.

“Sometimes you just have to leap and the net will appear,” I said with more confidence than I felt.

Six weeks later, I stepped off the ferry in St. John. I had no plan, no friends, and no clue how ridiculous I looked, festively ensembled in boat shoes and a dress celebrating the palm tree. Yet I had a strange feeling that everything would unfold as it was supposed to.

My parents did not share this viewpoint. I come from a conservative Southern family with a healthy respect for the American Dream: You worked hard in school, chose an upper-middle-class job with a 401(k) and a good matching plan. So they were pretty taken aback when, upon arriving in St. John, I took a job at the local ice cream parlor.

“But, but … you went to Yale,” they sputtered. “And you’re 31 years old!”

Perhaps there was something indulgent and Peter Pan-ish about this new lifestyle. But the truth is, I was happier scooping mint chocolate chip for $10 an hour than I was making almost six figures at my previous corporate job. It was calming to work with my hands. I met new people constantly, talking face-to-face instead of communicating via email and instant messaging. When I closed the shop at the end of the shift, my work was done and my time my own. Besides, I found that not everyone shared my parents’ concern. “When I moved here 25 years ago, my dad insisted I was ruining my life,” said one of my regular customers when we got to chatting about our lives one day. “Recently he visited and told me, ‘You had it right all along. I’m toward the end of my life and looking to retire to someplace like this, and now I’m too old to enjoy it.'”

Ridiculously appealing, right?  RIDICULOUSLY.  I mean, is there anyone out there who doesn’t find this appealing?  (Seriously, I want to hear from you if that’s the case!)

My question is this-

WHY?

Why do we become so enamored with, at least to a certain extent, the idea of running away? 

Is it the whole idea of a fresh start?  Leaving our old self behind and having the opportunity to create a whole new self?  Is it the beach?  The beach is a freakin’ magical place. MAGICAL.  The thought of a slower pace. Less driving, less access, more time to just…be.

I don’t know about you but I’m raising my hand to every single little thing I just said.

I have this vision of myself living at the beach.  I’m tan and fearless.  I’m fit. I don’t waste time or money on inconsequential things. I’m happy with less.  I find beauty and fulfillment in nature alone.  I make enough money to get by and spend my free time just…floating around all accidental-like on a breeze.  (Thanks for last bit, Forrest Gump.)  The restlessness and longing is washed away by the melody of the waves.  I sleep better.  I eat better.  I AM better.

What can go wrong, right?

The sand.  The sand could be an issue.  Because it gets everywhere.  In every orifice.  In every crevice.  Oh, and I’m allergic to seafood and shell fish.  That could put a little damper on things.  Did I mention that I’m white?  Like, amazingly white.  I think I had a tan in the mid to late ’90s and it was hard won, buddy, lemme tell you, HARD. WON.

Bigger than those superficial kinda things though, unless I change myself- the me that’s on the inside- then it’s just a change in geography.  Nothing more.

If what makes me happy doesn’t shift, if I don’t adjust my habits and expectations, then I’m just gonna be doing the same shit on the beach that I do here except I’ll be bitching about the lack of WIFI and how the salt air effs with my hair.  I mean, my goals, MY DREAMS, aren’t gonna change with the latitude.  Lord knows I’ve tried to run from stuff before and it always catches me!

If I REALLY want to change my life then my first priority isn’t to go all Jimmy Buffet; it’s to examine my goals and passions, my habits and commitments right where I am.

I need to look at the weight that I’m carrying from the things I think I want. 

Did you catch that?  From the things I THINK I want.

Since I’ve read that article that I referenced up there and because that ZBB song has been ALL over the radio-seriously, I can’t get away from it- I’ve realized there’s a distinction FOR SURE.

I think I want a new planner- I’m in constant search of the “perfect” planner just FYI- but what I really want is to just be efficient with what I have; not throw a bunch of new crap on top of the pile of old crap I have that didn’t work.  I think I want a new purse because mine gets messy but what I really want is to just be efficient with the one that I have and not throw a bunch of new crap on top of the pile of old crap I have that didn’t work.  I think I want to redecorate my bedroom so I go all “LET’S GO SHOPPING MODE” when really I just want it to feel peaceful and simple and I want to find THE perfect piece of art instead of ending up with ten pieces that I don’t really like on top of the old crap I already have that didn’t work.

Those are super trivial examples but I know for me, and I think for a lot of people, my first inclination is to look at something, see that it’s not working, and change it as fast as I can.  If it doesn’t feel right, I blame the product/item/habit/commitment instead of looking at myself first.  A new product, a new title, a new commitment isn’t a magic fix.  Getting rid of everything we own and heading to St. John probably isn’t a magic fix for most of us either.  (Girl found a chicken in her shower.)  The fix comes when you recognize that the icky feeling you have means something isn’t working in your life and needs to be re-examined.  Our easy move, our go-to move, is to just cover it up with something else instead of getting to the root of it.  Instead of looking internally to figure out exactly what’s going on.  To figure out exactly what we need and kicking the stuff to the curb that we don’t.

Definitely not the easy fix but worth it?  Worth every little bit of it because lemme tell you, if I DO end up living in paradise one day, I wanna make damn sure I’m there for the right reasons or else it becomes just another place to be discontented.  

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