The other day someone asked me if I had reached a place in my life where I could say I had found contentment. The question startled me and I muttered something about contentment being like happiness, a transitory experience. But the question lingered.
A long time ago, after a day of struggling miles up switchbacks clogged with sun-softened snow, I came upon a patch of dry ground beneath a large tree at the base of a rocky ledge. Even though I had traveled only half of the distance planned for that day, I set up my tiny tent and after a meal consisting mainly of instant rice and powered tomato soup with a few chips of dried meat tossed into the mix, I looked out at the first few stars and knew the night would be cold enough to freeze and the trail would be better at least for a few hours the next day, and that meant I would probably only be hungry for a day or so before I made it to my next food drop. As darkness crept in, I settled into the comfort of my sleeping bag and enjoyed the feeling of tired muscles relaxing, celebrating rest. In the dim light of my lone candle as I lay on the shoulder of Mount San Jacinto and within a few feet of the Pacific Crest Trail, I wrote three words into my journal, "I am content."
Yes, I have reached places of contentment. Then, like now, they are often a part of the struggle.