I was talking with a woman who stopped by the Stress Less group I run at a local retirement community. When I asked her how she was doing, she replied, “Not good.” She went on to explain that she was in a great deal of pain, due to the fact that she had lost over 8 inches in height and her ribs were now often in contact with her hips.
“My mind is fine and the body is shot. The pain is awful most of the time…and it is ok. I have had a good life. As long as I can keep walking, I’ll be fine.”
Her attitude and courage are, of course, inspiring.
Yet one phrase stuck with me…”I have had a good life.”
I have been reflecting on what “a good life” means. Sometimes I think about dying and being able to look back and appreciate the life I have lived. Yet what makes a life “good?” Is it loving well or being loved by others? Is it creating material wealth or spiritual health? Is it seeing the world or contributing to the improvement of the planet? Is it about expressing one’s own individuality or belonging? Is it one thing or another…?
What I have come up with is that “a good life” is one that I am actually present for, whether things are going well or going poorly. It is the life that is here, right now, in all its complexity and simplicity. It is this moment, undiluted by my mind’s tendency to filter and compare and manipulate, just as it is.
This moment is, after all, the only moment that I am alive. The rest are either long gone, or not here yet, and certainly beyond any control I may have over them. Right now, I can make choices, I can act or not act, I can feel and experience that which is already here, without the percieved need for it to be any other way.
For me, a good life is one that I am awake for….how about you?