I wish I was in Austin

I have friends in Austin right now. Some of them are friends from 26 years ago. Some of them are friends from two years ago. Some of them are friends I have never met. Some of them live in Austin. Some of them are visiting for SxSW.

I will watch them talk about being in Austin, and I will feel deprived. I will wish that I could be there with the bluebonnets and babbling and the brisket and the buzz.

And, of course, Nancy and I will talk about Austin this weekend because it was 26 years ago this weekend, a couple days after our wedding, that we drove her car from Wheaton, Illinois to the apartment I had set up for us in Austin.

The more we talk about Austin, however, the more I think about being there for the conference and the conversations, the more I get caught up in the tweets, the less content I will be.


It’s morning now. The last sentence I wrote last night was this:  “The more I long to be somewhere else, the less I am satisfied with where I am.”

This essay is a brief meditation on coveting. And I realized, upon reflection, that the previous sentence isn’t always a wrong thing. In fact, there are many times that longing to be somewhere else and being dissatisfied with where I am are good things. I am dissatisfied with my own lack of concentration. I am dissatisfied with my lack of exercise. I am dissatisfied with my current writing.

I long to be in a more disciplined place. I long to be more focused in writing. (I’ll skip the exercise point for now.)

As I think about these, however, I realize that my dissatisfaction with with the inner me, and the place I long to be still is about me. I want to sharpen the me that I was created to be.

“The more I long to be in someone else’s experience, the less able I am to live my own.”

Maybe that is better. If I spend my time wanting to trade places, if I spend my mind craving what someone else has, then my life is consumed in not living.

It is easy to look at someone else and say, “I want the house that you have. I want the wife that you have. I want the employees that you have. I want the bright shiny things that you have.” Implied, of course, is “If I had that, I would be happy, I would be satisfied.”

Every moment spent on that kind of consuming desire, however, is a moment spent not loving the wife I am with, not building the employees I work with. It’s also a moment spent on wanting to become like someone else. It’s also a moment spent on not being thankful.

And, of course, it assumes that ‘someone else’ actually is satisfied.

Coveting consumes.


Enjoy Austin, friends. I’m glad you are there.

And with a wife that loves me this much, I’m glad that I’m here.


7 responses to “I wish I was in Austin

  1. Mike Van Huisen

    Thanks Jon. You’ve helped me get past a little coveting and dissatisfaction today. And Happy Anniversary!

  2. Great challenge to focus on what we have that’s good, rather than what we don’t have.

    And that dissatisfaction is sometimes a reminder that our only real satisfaction comes in being with Jesus.

    (By the way, no Austin for me either. And I also wish I was going.)

  3. Ditto Mike and Paul’s comments.

    I think it’s a little exacerbated by the fact that at one point, I was tentatively supposed to go to SXSW (but the economy, among other things, changed those plans).

    And the really ringing irony is that truthfully, I’m pretty sure that I’ll be happier here than I would be if I’d gone. I’m happier when I’m more myself, my best self, rather than trying to be like someone else.

  4. thank you friends, for meeting me here at least.

    And understand that I write from the mirror.

  5. Very, very compelling. Thanks for sharing part of your story. I, too, am guilty of wanting the next step a little more, not truly living where I am right now and I need feedback like this to shake me out of it!

  6. This is the best discussion on coveting I’ve seen. I’m realizing how hopelessly entangled I am in the sin of coveting…

    Truthfully, it is probably the least-discussed of the Ten Commandments, wouldn’t you say? Perhaps because it is so subtle and pervasive…

  7. John, you are welcome.
    Hannah, it is certainly culturally acceptable.