Monday, September 2, 2013

A Good Life

Image courtesy of MorgueFile

Calvin, of the "Calvin and Hobbes" comic strip fame, once imparted some timeless wisdom: "If people sat outside and looked at the stars each night," he observed, "I'll bet they'd live a lot differently."

I believe he's right. I try to sit outside every night before bedtime to breathe the night air and look at the sky. It's a simple practice. For me, a time of deep relaxation and spiritual cleansing.

Year by bewildering year our world grows more complex. We crave peace in our souls. We long for simplicity in lives that too easily become relentlessly tangled in complicated webs.

One man, David, enjoyed the simple things of life. He sometimes took jobs in the American west at dude ranches, national parks and seasonal resorts.

His brother, however, wanted to entice him to get a "real" job and live in a world surrounded by things that only money can buy. So David's brother often sent him photos of himself enjoying the so-called "good life." He labeled his snapshots "My new sound system" or "My new car."

But the photographs stopped arriving after David responded with a picture of his own. He sent his brother a large poster with a breathtaking view of Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park. On the back was David's message: "My back yard."

I believe I understand how David feels. While his brother was striving for THE Good Life, David aimed for A Good Life. There's a difference.

THE good life requires that we take pleasure in new things; A good life requires that we take pleasure in moments.

To enjoy THE good life we have to get ahead; to enjoy A good life we have to make the trip worthwhile.

THE good life is supported by feeding our pocketbooks; A good life is supported by feeding our souls.

Over a century ago, John Burroughs put it like this: "To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter...to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird's nest or a wildflower in spring – these are some of the rewards of the simple life." I call it a good life.

I don't want to collect more stuff at the expense of collecting memories. And I don't want to let making a buck interfere with my making a difference.

I'm already looking forward to tonight when I'll sit outside and look up at the stars.

-- Steve Goodier

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