I read this quote from the book: “The Writing Life,” by Annie Dillard, author of the classic memoir: “Pilgrim At Tinker Creek”:
“There is no shortage of good days. It is good lives that are hard to come by. A life of good days lived in the senses is not enough. The life of sensation is the life of greed; it requires more and more. The life of the spirit requires less and less; time is ample and the passage sweet.”
I would certainly support her claim that a life lived in the senses, i.e. the material world, is certainly a life that is never happy because it always needs more and more. I would also agree that the life of the spirit requires nothing from the material world. Everything it needs is already supplied within us. However, I do not agree with her claim that “good lives are hard to come by.” Not at all. Once we have come to understand what makes an authentic life, for us as an individual and for no one else, then living a good life is what has to follow.
As I have explored what makes an authentic life for me over the last two or three years, I have come to understand that, along with inner qualities like love, compassion, kindness, respect and a connection to something larger than myself, it is the ability to recognize those “good days” when they come along and do what I can to string as many of them together as I can. That’s what makes a good life. I also use my senses, not for greed, but for the joy they can bring me: the smell of the grass after it rains, a glorious sunset, the sounds of birds singing the day awake, the taste of a fresh, ripe tomato fresh off the vine, my grandchildren telling me: “I love you, Grandma.” Those are the good moments, that make a good day, that make a good life.
I am not downplaying the bad days, and there are sure to be plenty of them for all of us. We get sick, or someone we love gets sick; we lose our job; we total our car; a natural disaster takes away our home. So many bad days can come our way, but do they necessarily have to make a bad life? Or, are they just some bad days within what is otherwise a good life? If the good days and the good moments outnumber the bad, should we let the bad days define our lives, or should we take them for what they are – bad days – and look to the moments that bring us joy to pull us out of them? I can recall countless times that, in the middle of a bad day, one of my cats would seem to know I was in need of some TLC and jump up on my lap to put her head on my chest and purr sweet sounds to display her unconditional love. Or, I will take myself out for a walk tp gather my thoughts and see small children at play, feel the sun on my face, or run into a dear friend. Those good moments turn my bad day into merely some bad moments, and rescue the rest of the day ahead, but only if I release my death grip on the “bad day” and let the good come in.
We can all find ways to turn a bad day into a good one. As you might guess, this week’s assignment is going to ask you to do just that. Once you can name something for what it really is, you have the power to make it into something better. So have fun and, for goodness sakes, Have A Good Day!
Peace and Blessings!