I’m not looking for an A+

I had a discussion recently about the choices we make for our lives, about whether to settle for “pretty good” or to strike out, take a risk, and change everything just to see if life can be better.

That adventurous striking out thing sounds exciting, right? But the thing is, I am happy. I love my life. Why would I change it?

Sure, Ottawa can be boring. It isn’t stylish or close to the rest of the world like, say, Paris or London. But it’s home and it’s where I feel I belong.

I spent my entire childhood in Toronto dreaming about living in Ireland. The moment I finished my undergrad, I made that dream come true. I stayed there for five years and it was a beautiful, life-changing experience. The mountains, rolling green hills, lakes and views of the ocean were breathtaking. I never took them for granted and thinking about them now, 12 years later, still leaves me with a lump in my throat. But I never felt that I belonged. I was always the other, the outsider.

When I returned to Canada, I was happy to be among family again and to no longer stick out. I went through a number of ups and downs, though, before I ended up in the happy life I live now. It wasn’t until I divorced, moved to Ottawa, remarried and settled in my current neighbourhood that I actually found myself for the first time in a life I was happy with. I no longer look around, trying to find something better, I no longer dream of another, better life. And realizing that makes me realize I’m not interested in uprooting myself and going off on some adventure.

Simple though my life is, I often find myself smiling as I look at the Rideau Canal, or cycle through the parks, or walk the short walk to work. I even smile at City Hall. It’s not the most beautiful of buildings, but I look at it and think “this is my city!”.

Maybe I’m just getting sentimental in my old age.

But, seriously, I know this exuberance is because, finally, I have everything I need to be happy.

I have a loving husband and wonderful son.

We live in my favourite part of the city,  surrounded by nature and early Canadian history.

Ottawa has both a multicultural population and, because it is the Capital, reminders everywhere of the positive aspects of citizenship.

It is a city full of active people enjoying the outdoors, which has made me more active.

In this sometimes boring town, there are vital, inspiring corners and little niches of art and artists.

I can walk to work, my son can walk to school, he has friends and a lot of independence, and is involved in some pretty great activities.

We have a routine that works for us.

I don’t feel uncomfortable, and I don’t feel like I’m stuck in a rut.

The thing is, I recognize that the life I live is good enough. Maybe good enough isn’t sexy or exciting, but it is good enough that I don’t want more.

I guess it depends on how you look at it; if I was going to give my life a grade, I might say it’s an A- life. Now, one’s satisfaction with A- depends on one’s perspective. Would you say, “Wow! I have an A- life!” or would you say, “My life is only an A-“? I’m in the first category. I feel lucky that my life is an A-.

I don’t feel the need to rock the boat. I’m not looking for an A+.






11 thoughts on “I’m not looking for an A+

  1. Sounds pretty awesome to me! Interesting, to rate your life w/a letter grade. Have never thought to do that! Just wanted to mention I had my yearly exam a few weeks ago where I sit and chat w/Dr. about my current state of life, and mentioned how I have been working hard to be satisfied w/my little world, realizing I’m not going to light-the-world-on-fire anymore, and don’t wish to. He mentioned that people go to conferences and retreats and help groups for years sometimes to learn that that very thing, and you my dear, seem to have figured it out too. Made me feel good–it’s not easy to get to that place certainly but nice to get there! I’m happy you are happy!

    • So happy for you, too, Robin! Your doc is so right. The key, for me, has been to find the little things each day that make me happy and think about whether I’d find them elsewhere or give them up to risk not finding them again. It can be hard because as kids we are quite sure we WILL set the world on fire, but by 40, most of us realize that’s not what life is about after all…unless you’re famous I guess!

  2. I think you have now reached what everyone would want: being happy! So as long as you have these occasional wow-experiences as well (holidays perhaps, or enjoying a day out with your husband and son), why wouldn’t you call it A+ or just the best ever?
    The type of life that makes you give this grade might differ for everyone, or perhaps it differs per age as well. I know some students who, at that point in their life, are as happy as they can be with going out every weekend and living together in a dorm. But when they are forty, a ‘happy life’ has taken on other dimensions. For some it might be a steady family life, for others it might be traveling the world as photographer or journalist, who knows!
    I’m really happy for you that you feel happy. Don’t let anyone make you question your own happiness 🙂

  3. Really enjoyed your post. Sounds like a great place to live.
    I live in a small Australian city that isn’t in the slightest sexy. I happlily go and visit other places knowing I can always come back to Adelaide where my family is. I’d certainly give that at least an A-.

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