What is a Life?

Live for something.  Do good, and leave behind you a monument of virtue that the storm of time can never destroy. Write your name in kindness, love, and mercy, on the hearts of thousands you come in contact with year by year; you will never be forgotten. No, your name, your deeds, will be as legible on the hearts you leave behind as the stars on the brow of evening. Good deeds will shine as the stars of heaven.  ~Chalmers~

We have been staying close to home these past few weeks, so no new pictures of another beautiful colonial city, just some of my reflections today.

What gives a life meaning?  Truly it is different for everyone.  Who are we to judge what constitutes a good life for anyone?  Many of us have fallen victim to determining the quality of one’s life based on our own experiences and opinions of what we would do under the same set of circumstances.  I know that I have been guilty of this at times.

What does it take to find happiness in one’s life?  This certainly differs widely from one individual to the next.  As we slowly marched towards retirement (me more slowly than Terry), our visions of what happiness looked like for us changed, little by little.  We wanted the experiences of other places and cultures, whereas others want the stability and security of a home, feeling more anchored in one spot.  Since we are all unique individuals, our sense of what will bring us joy differs.  Again, we often fall prey to the mindset that if someone does not have our same likes and dislikes, there must be something wrong with them.

One observation Terry and I have made, both in Costa Rica and here in Mexico, is that many locals we see and speak to are truly happy, even with so very little in a material or monetary sense.  Values certainly appear to be different in developing and third world countries.

While growing up I often had the thought that I wanted to do something important in my life, something big.  That would give my life meaning!  I have come to realize that being of service to others in small ways brings me great joy and that just may be my calling in this life.  I believe that we all have our own path to walk.

Those whose journey is one to experience a chronic illness may have the most meaningful lives of all, particularly in the width and the depth of the valuable lessons that they teach others.  My beloved friend Barbara (the one I call my anam cara) is very ill and, even through all her suffering, she teaches me lessons, through our conversations, her courage, her concern for others, both people and animals, her beautiful artwork, and how in tune she is with nature.  I pray that I could have that same grace if faced with those struggles.

When I look around me, to those who have so little, to those in physical and emotional pain, given the state of the world currently, my hope and prayer for all of us is that we can find the meaning in our present experiences and capture some joy that we can hold in our hearts.

Peace and Joy

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The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.  ~Thomas Merton~

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