I decided to read more about contentment (as I am working with contentment in my life). I read about pain and pleasure and how we naturally hold onto our need for pleasure instead of just enjoying it. This need to grasp (and I am not sure if it comes from fear or our mind's natural aptitude for creating miserable self-fulfilling prophesies) makes it even harder for us to enjoy our lives.
I was so intrigued by this that I decided to test this idea. I sit down in front of the fire to meditate for a short time. I close my eyes and I automatically start to get restless. I start to think, "the fire is so beautiful, what if I miss it?" Instead of enjoying the fire with my eyes closed, feeling the warmth and listening to the soothing crackling sound, I start to grip onto the idea of the fire. For some reason I could not let myself enjoy it, perhaps because it will eventually be gone or I will be away from home soon. Regardless of the reason, I was so shocked that I could not stop gripping at the idea of enjoyment - I was gripping so much I could not even allow myself to enjoy it.
Then it happened. I started laughing. How absurd! I wanted nothing more to sit and enjoy - but I could not let go. My laughter slowly helped to release something - and I began to just listen to the crackling and absorb the warmth.
How often do we deny ourselves? How much of our lives are spent holding on for dear life? How much time do we waste by worrying and clinging?