As I age (as I have aged!), with more life and labor behind me than in front of me, and being a native (Ah, what word shall I employ? Ideologist? Theorist? Or, simply) thinker, I spend a good bit of each day contemplating life.
Life in general. The life of the world. The common life of humankind.
And, more specifically, my life. Long self-identifying as an existentialist, constantly I ask myself three questions. About identity, who am I? About destiny, believing that life, my life is not static, thus, ever-evolving, who am I becoming? About legacy, what will I leave for those who come after me; if not in material substance, then in the record of a life well lived?
In all of this, one idea continues to arise: A good life.
By “good”, I mean fulfilling. A good life is that in and through which one has achieved (or, rather, is achieving) the purpose of one’s existence; whether framed by a religious impulse (“I am becoming who God created me to be”), a sense of community, indeed, communion with one’s heritage (“I am realizing the dreams of my ancestors”), or some other outer-inner drive larger than one’s self (“I am growing into oneness with the cosmos”).
All this said, one thing is obvious to me. A good life is not a homeostatic state or realm to or at which one arrives and, having arrived, never leaves.
At least, not for me. When I was younger, I believed that I always was on the move to get (to be) “better.” Better than I was at any given moment. Smarter. Stronger. Wiser. Happier.
However, over the course of my life, through trial-and-error, successes and failures, prudent choices and grave mistakes (some of which I regret to say, though, honesty compels my confession, have been woefully repeatable!), a good life always is a moving target. Or, perhaps, more truly said, I always am moving toward the target.
Based on my experience, a good life can be symbolized as a tapestry comprised of threads of being (elements of living fulfilled) and of becoming (elements of living yet to be fulfilled).
In a word, a good life is a journey with a beginning though without a destination, for the horizon of the expedition ever evolves.
So, with all this inherent process-oriented nebulosity, I, at least, can ask: What is a (for me, the chiefest) road sign or directional signal throughout the twists and turns, the straight lines and circularities in and on the pathway toward a good life?
More to come…
© 2021 PRA
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