Contentment

Johnny Mnumonic (TriStar Pictures)
Poor Johnny

I watched Johnny Mnemonic (TriStar Films) for the first time today.  I was struck by how good of a film it is.  The producer, director, and writers really captured the essence of what can come about when ambition is not tempered by sound judgement, and contentment.

The protagonist, Johnny, desires to reverse a procedure he had undergone earlier, which allows him to store large portions of data in section of his brain.  Johnny is able to upload sensitive data into his modified brain, and transport it, acting as a courier.  This is a marketable trait in the not to distant future, used by people who have sensitive information they don’t want to fall into the wrong hands.  One of the more poignant scenes from the movie is when Johnny (played by Keanu Reeves) admits what drove him to do almost irreparable damage to himself: discontentment.

Like most people, Johnny has been conditioned to believe that he isn’t living if he isn’t living life to the fullest.  The best food, the best clothes, the best women, the best of everything.  Removing the portion of his brain that allows Johnny to remember his childhood was not to high of a cost.  Although a science-fiction piece, the movie does beg the question, what are we willing to do to obtain what we desire?

I very rarely meet people these days who have in my opinion a positive work-life balance.  One usually flourishes at the expense of the other, normally life.  I have known people who work 10-11 hour days, including 4 hours on Saturday and Sunday, to the detriment of their health and personal relationships.  Somewhere along the line it became o.k. to sacrifice all in the name of striving for “The Good Life”.  The problem is that most people don’t really desire the good life; the desire contentment.

Contentment is when you are satisfied, possessing easy of mind.  Notice no mention of completion or total acquisition.  Contentment, like most steps to human-doing, requires a decision to be made.  “I will not get a refill of my soda; I’ve had enough.”  You can always get or acquire more, but the content individual realizes they loose part of themselves in the futile pursuit.  Time, energy, and resources that could be spent doing something else, possibly more fulfilling.  Discontentment is a particularly sad state, because it creates a vicious cycle.  The more discontent you are with the present state of things, the more likely you are to try and do more, which just feeds the process.

Make the choice to be satisfied with what you have.  If you can acquire more or something different, great, but consider the cost.

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