How big is your world? Is it big enough for you? Mine seems agonizingly small these days, but the problem isn’t my itty bitty world. The problem is me.
Each week since my surgery, my world has gotten larger. I started in a hospital room, and oh, I was so glad to get home to see the familiar walls and smell familiar smells. There, my world was limited to the space between my couch and the bathroom. But slowly, by the week after my surgery, I made it to more areas of the apartment, including upstairs. Eventually, I got really sick of the apartment and longed for more.
In the following days, I was outside, walking around my parking lot, encountering neighbors, and breathing in the renewing fresh air.
Now, a full month after my surgery, I take walks around my apartment complex, each day growing stronger to walk a little further. I find myself anxious to walk beyond the complex, to make my regular trip to the library, about a mile away, or go to the shopping center to pick up items for dinner, maybe to one of the three Starbucks we have within a mile of our apartment. But no, I have an invisible tether keeping me near my apartment.
I’m growing tired of the same sights each day, the same flower beds, the same car ports, the same kids waiting for busses. Whereas a couple weeks ago, these sights were refreshing to me, they are old and drab now. How quickly I lose interest.
Yesterday, I was walking, thinking these thoughts, and two little brothers were chasing each other with sticks, yelling that they were going to “kill” each other. Violent little things, I mused. They ran towards the road and stopped, immediately held hands, looked both ways, crossed, and resumed their “sword play.” I laughed at how deeply rooted their mother’s lesson was for crossing the road. Apparently, the part about being nice to each other hadn’t sunk in as well.
I noticed several places where the apartments were doing construction and repairs, noting that I wasn’t too fond of the choice of linoleum for the kitchens.
I continued walking and noted that several neighbors had planted spring bulbs, much earlier than I did. I saw brilliant yellow daffodils smiling at me and some purple flower that I can’t name, but it was lovely.
One of my neighbors was in his garage, tinkering on a classic car he’s been restoring. I stopped and chatted with him for awhile about the construction and his plans for moving during renovations.
Returning from my little walk around my complex, I realized how much I experienced in my limited frame of reference.
Many successful, happy people have lived the majority of their lives confined to a smaller sphere. I think of the reclusive Emily Dickinson, who wrote thousands of timeless poems while hiding away at home. What about Jane Austen, the country girl, who lived in small towns with her family and lived a spinster’s life, all the while writing brilliant novels about that same kind of life. Or John Bunyan, who wrote his masterpiece in a jail cell.
Perhaps it’s a matter of contentment on my part, that I need to learn to accept my limitations and be happy with my lot at the moment. “But godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6).
I don’t think I’ll stop longing for my longer walks, but perhaps I can become just a little more open to the beauty of life within my small world.