The Good Life

This post is not what you think by looking at the title alone.

When you picture the good life, what comes to mind? Perhaps not having to work. Perhaps being able to travel all around the world. Perhaps purchasing anything you want at any time.

Perhaps _________ (you fill in the blank).

Many people desire to live a long time for nothing more than the idea that the longer one lives, the more one gets to do.

Thirteen years ago I saw my father, at a very young age, lose a cancer battle that he thought had only started only 7 weeks and 3 days before his death. I am convinced it was going on for at least a year, but who really knows.

He had immigrated to the United States at the age of 27, after having fought for seven years in a war in Africa that seemed to have no end in sight. He was blown up several times, but in the 60s and 70s, especially in a war that was based upon Guerilla Warfare (defined as: the use of hit-and-run tactics by small, mobile groups of irregular forces operating in territory controlled by a hostile, regular force) most were not taken out of the battle until they actually perished. If you were in the war, you kept fighting for as long as possible.

But then his time was finally over and after going back to his homeland for the better part of two year, he found an opportunity to come to the US for that so called “better life.” After starting out working on a dairy farm, he eventually ended up working as a janitor and selling firewood out of the back of his truck for the bulk of his adult life. He never really traveled, although he did make it back to his native Azores a couple of times over 30 plus years, and he did get to see me fly while on an aircraft carrier. Those things he cherished.

He saved his money, lived in a small 16 foot long trailer (that is a longer story), and was looking forward to going back and living in the Azores the same year he fell ill. He wasn’t asking for much. The simple life of doing some manual labor around the house, picking Abalone from the sea, and quite literally just sitting around with friends and having a beer were the things that put a smile on his face (he did not live long enough to meet his grandchildren thus I am sure he would have been smiling even more).

And then I read a quote from Seneca recently, one that came from his Moral Letters (that title alone is empowering) and it read:

“Show me that the good life doesn’t consist in its length, but in its use, and that it is possible — no, entirely too common — for a person who has had a long life to have lived too little.”

Seneca, Moral Letters, 49.10b

Thus, I ask you to reflect today…nearly halfway through yet another year…how are you living? Are you doing things that really matter? Are you making a difference? Are you affecting the next generation?

Don’t worry about how long you will live, but instead place your desire and focus on HOW MUCH you will live.

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