My uncle passed away on a Wednesday afternoon after struggling with ALS a diseases that basically starts shutting down the different body parts. I wrote about him about two years ago when he was first diagnosed. He was what you call a “bon vivant” refused to wear ties under any circumstance, used his shirts inside out so that the tags wouldn’t bother his skin. Traveled the world, too some of the most remote places. Ate the most extravagant meals and drank the finest whiskey and wine. Not only that, he was a world re-known sculptor with art exhibits around the globe. He was happily married for 50 years with 3 children, 7 grandchildren and was greatly loved by those around him.
His life got me thinking about what it means to live a good life. Some of us won’t be able to travel the world, we will be tied down by work or family, and not all of us will eat the most extravagant meals or drink the finest wines because we live on a budget or just don’t enjoy drinking. Some of us won’t have kids or grandkids or become famous. So will we have lived a good life? I think our culture makes us believe that to live a good life is to cross certain things off the list.
Personally, sometimes I think I need to do more to feel I’m making a difference. I need to write a book, do a TED talk, and change thousands of people lives through my actions and words. As if those things would give my life the meaning it deserves.
But another part of me (the wiser) knows that to live a good life and the reason my uncle's life was so full was that he enjoyed everything he did, loved deeply and felt loved. My aunt was telling a story that he was nominated with an award along with 9 more people. They were CEO’S, people that ran nonprofits, Doctors and they were all talking about how hard they had worked to be where they were in life. When it was my uncle’s turn to be interviewed he said “I feel sorry that you didn’t enjoy getting to where you are in life. I haven’t felt like I had to work a day in my life” Trust me this man worked for my grandmother it’s not that he inherited money or had an “easy” life. He was just good at accepting/enjoying things as they were.
So if your bucket list is having 4 children, becoming a monk, having thousands of followers, saving trees or birds it’s beautiful but it’s also “Mindmade”. My cat is a great example of a meaningful life, she doesn’t have thousands of youtube views, planted a tree, or does some insane trick (she does play fetch which is pretty insane if you ask me) but she has taught me so much about love and relaxation. Why would that not be enough? How is that not significant? Today I contemplate how true meaning in life is found in simplicity, kindness, and love.