Disappointment is a decision.
It is a decision to view life through the lens of lack and loss.
Forces have conspired against me to withhold what I need or want. Life is a complicated maze through which I must find my way in an attempt to reach certain goals or achievements which I believe have the power to bring me to that intangible place of satisfaction and contentment for which I yearn.
Of course we all have certain basic needs that are essential to life. We need shelter, food, and some degree of external security. But the destructive worm of disappointment feeds well beyond basic necessities.
Disappointment plays on our insatiable desire for more. It says, this is not enough. Real “life” is always just around the next corner. The resting place is always ahead. When I get there it will be enough.
Disappointment is unable to live in the present moment. Some essential ingredient in my life is missing. Now is never good adequate.
Disappointment is trapped in the illusion that there is some circumstance, some situation, accomplishment, relationship, possession, or entertainment that has the magical power to fill the nagging hole that lurks on the edges of much of life.
Disappointment is inherently restless. I cannot sit still. I must keep moving. Driven by regret about this present moment, I engage in the futile search for a way to satisfy the inevitable sense of the inadequacy of anything in this material time bound physical realm using the tools of this material time bound physical realm. I seek to assuage my thirst with crunchy salty snack food. When my diet doesn’t work, I just increase the quantity I consume.
Disappointment forgets the question Jesus posed to his disciples when he asked,
Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? (Matthew 6:25)
Disappointment has lost touch with the “more than” dimension of life. It seeks in the realm of “food” “body” and “clothing” the key to satisfaction.
That is the real lie of disappointment. It suggests that there is something in this world that has the capacity to bestow contentment.
But, like disappointment, contentment is also a decision. Contentment is the decision that this is adequate; this is enough. This moment is full of the presence of life which is the only thing for which I truly long. Nothing is lacking right here, right now, in this place, at this time.
Contentment chooses to experience the mystery of the moment, opening to the beauty that is present at every point of life along the way. Contentment has no expectation that anything must change or be added in order for me to experience peace and well being.
There is always a dimension in which I am able to experience that life, just as it is, is whole and perfect.
Jesus said to his friends before his physical departure,
remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:20)
The dimension of depth that Jesus embodied is always present. When I turn from the snares of this world and open to the wonder and beauty of life in this moment, there is no lack and no loss. There is nothing to regret, nothing to achieve, nothing to seek or find. There is no place to go in order to fill up any empty hole. Fullness is inherent in the gift of life here and now.
Paul proclaimed in Philippians,
I have learned to be content with whatever I have. (Philippians 4:11)
I am free to choose to view life though the lens of enough and fullness, rather than lack and loss.
nb: If you give a monkey one banana, the monkey will be happy.
If you give a monkey two bananas, the monkey will be deliriously happy.
If you take away one of the monkey’s two bananas, the monkey will be furious.
It was only after the experience of having two bananas, that the monkey began to view one banana in terms of loss.
I imagine the same thing would work if the monkey who was happy with one banana saw another monkey with two bananas. Once content with one, the first monkey would now view one banana as a lack.