Monday, 29 November 2010

Striving for more, or happy with enough?

Approaching a first anniversary, I find myself wondering if I should have accomplished something more than a year of marriage. Which is ridiculous when I consider that l have - a year of marriage, still very much happy and in love; an accomplishment indeed by today's standards. So what does it say about me - or about society in general - that this doesn't seem to be a success enough?

Today, we expect every year to have achieved something big, to have outdone the previous year somehow, and not even just from year to year. 'Make every second count' is a positive version of today's ethos, but the uglier version of the message constantly thrust at us these days is: 'More'. A better job, a higher salary, a bigger house or flat, a more fulfilling relationship. But in the pursuit of an ever extending social life, an ever increasing wardrobe, and a life crammed to the brim with 'More', are we happier? Or are we hot on the tail of an endlessly tall order, and a potential nervous breakdown?

Ask anyone how they are these days and the response will usually be 'Busy'. Said with a smile and a helpless shrug, our level of busyness seems to be a measure of how well we're doing. But when 'busy' feels synonymous with 'stressed', why are we doing it to ourselves?

Having just spent the weekend helping friends in the throes of planning their own wedding, I thought back to this time last year, as we frantically juggled full time work, and daily life with copious phone calls back and forth to family, suppliers, caterers and family again, arranging a long-distance wedding and reception from London to Cornwall, where everything will be done 'dreckly' and a sense of urgency has yet to cross the border. I thought across the manic two days decorating the venue, hastily putting together a seating plan the night before in my now-husband's B&B room. 
Then I thought of the feeling a sheer happiness as I walked down the aisle, said 'I do', flitted through the reception in a grinning blur, and eventually flumped onto the sofa in our hotel room with the man I love, ready to start our lives together.

The beautiful, surprise honeymoon to Skye, our first Christmas together, creating our home, and every day since then that we have spent building the foundations of our marriage. Marriage may have lost it's flavour for a lot of people today, but for some of us, it's a safe place, a haven from the rest of the world - a place to be yourself. As with all long-term relationships, it's a combination of friendship, domestic living, and daily monotony with splashes of humour, adventure, romance and excitement. It has days where the groceries and an early night are the extent of its riches, and other days where the butterflies of first kisses and a warm fuzzy feeling fill the spaces in us. 

It may not bring 'More' on a daily basis, but it definitely brings a sense of happiness, of fulfillment. It is enough. And for me, I think 'enough' is a far more attainable, sustainable thing to strive for. More than that - it's an accomplishment in itself. To feel that you have enough, or a near-constant basis, is a positive that we've lost today, I think. It's a positive that's not looked on so positively.

Well, I've come to look on it positively. 'Enough' is exactly where I'm at, and whilst I'll continue to look to 'more' (no-one wants to stagnate), it will hopefully be in a way that doesn't demand a certificate of achievement or a sticky star every other day.

For now, I feel that I - we - have achieved something. Something spectacular. We have made it to the end of a whole year, and whilst marriage may have lost its cherry-on-top, or even it's frosting for much of society today, for those of us who still choose it, that remains something to be proud of.

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