I suppose it is my age, but I find myself attending funerals lately. While life expectancy is not directly related to age, when we get into our 70’s, (I am 71) odds are that we will lose family and friends. I just returned from the funeral of a friend’s husband. He was 73 years young and lived a full life, but not a long enough life. While I have a friend who often says that she does not want to live to be old, what she really means is that she does not want to suffer. I believe most of us want to live a long life. And how old is that? Well, it depends.
I do not want this to be morbid. In fact, this post is not really about death, it is about life. It is about living a full life, more than living a long life. Even so, I can’t just forget that the one whose funeral I attended earlier today no longer has the choices those of us writing and reading this have. We have the choice to live a life of joy. While I believe he lived a joyful and full life, he has now passed, leaving his family and friends to treasure his memory and the memories they shared with him. The rest of us still have time, although we do not know how much time. But whatever time there is, there is time to live a joyful life.
What is a joyful life? We each have our own definition of that. Most of us would list loving family and friends as bringing us joy, although this is not true for everyone. Some people do not have close connections and spend more time with their devices and the TV than they do with living friends. And I am not referring to social connections as living friends. If you are in this category, make yourself get outside of yourself and develop good connections with others. It was obvious from the packed church at Ben Anderson’s funeral that he had good connections. There has been a significant decline in people attending funerals, so when there is a packed church, and the person wasn’t famous or necessarily powerful, you know the person was loved. Ben Anderson was loved.
Many of us, especially those still engaged in work, would list meaningful work as bringing us joy. But this is a different kind of joy, not the kind that keeps you warm at night. Meaningful work can bring us many good things, but not the joy that comes from meaningful connections with others. Those who have only work to fulfill them find days and nights empty once that work is gone.
Other than meaningful connections, what else brings us joy? That varies. Some find joy in helping others. Some find joy in travel. Some find joy at the beach or lake, some in reading, some in learning. Whatever brings us joy, we should take responsibility to make sure we have enough of that in our lives to fulfill us. For there will come a time when we are no longer physically or otherwise able to enjoy what brings us joy.
Mike and I had a joy-filled weekend recently visiting with friends we have known for forty years. We ate wonderful food, played cards (Hand and Foot,) went out in their beautiful boat, visited, and just talked. The TV was not turned on at all. We also did not waste time on our devices. Our time together catching up was too important.
While with our friends we were talking about traveling, which we all do a lot of. One of our friends made the comment, “I imagine that I have about ten good years left.” I have said the same thing. Think about that, only ten good years. What we mean by that is that just due to age alone, in ten years we may not be mobile enough to do the things we can do today, to enjoy traveling, boating, even entertaining friends. We do not take this time for granted.
How about you? What brings you joy? Are you making time for joy? If not, why not? And when?
an Indian poet – A. Rabatte Cervi- wrote :
In Life, Brother, in Life
If you want to make someone HAPPY
Someone that is dear to you
Tell him/her TODAY, be good
The poem continues and in a certain part it says:
Do not fill graves with Flowers….
Thank you, Arturo. I appreciate you reading my musings, and your thoughtful comments.