ONE - The Original Unified Gospel of Jesus. Authoritative Gospel Reference, Bible.
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ONE - The Original Unified Gospel of Jesus. Authoritative Gospel Reference, Bible.ONE - The Original Unified Gospel of Jesus. Authoritative Gospel Reference, Bible.

Reflections (more)

Another year gone by.  What have we done, and why?  G. Zegarelli


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Getting It

 Getting It.



My Dear Children:


It may be a colloquialism that we say, "that a person 'gets it'" meaning, generally, that the person understands how to live life well.  But, however said, at any time, or in any location, it is of great value to think about the qualities in a person that underlie living life well. 


The premise, of course, presupposes that some lives are lived better than others, since living a life well necessarily implies that a life may not be lived well.  And, since no life may be lived twice, there can never be an absolute comparison between or among the implementation of unlimited choices in any single life at any given time.   Nevertheless, it seems possible to identify the common qualities of different persons who all appear to live well, to the extent that such qualities can be observed.


At the onset, it should be importantly noted, that knowing how to live life well has no relationship to social status, money, employment or any other possessory interest.  It is far deeper than any of those.  An old mid-west farmhand and a wealthy corporate executive, with such different lives, can equally live life well, as can, as Aesop would say, a city mouse and a country mouse.


At its most fundamental generality, living life well appears to be a peace with existence.  It seems to be a detachable independence, with, at that same time, complete dependant integration.  Irrespective of any one particular life, it can never be true that a person lives well if that person complains, is hurtful, jealous or mean; certainly so, for such qualities in a person are indicative of the struggle, unhappiness or frustration that can never be part of living well and are, in fact, its antithesis. 


It is, furthermore, important not to become discouraged (if that is not ironic) in learning to live well.  It is usually, I think, something to be learned.  Like most things, it may come naturally to the very few, and it may be inaccessible to others.  But, for most, with some attention over time, such as a subtle wisdom is achieved, learning to live life well also can be achieved. 


It may take a lifetime to learn to live well.


And, so, simply stated, following are the qualities that I believe are common in persons who live well, and who understand how to live life well.  They are, as fundamental in nature, necessarily simple qualities:


1.  Work hard. 


Be diligent.  Working hard means performing your obligations and being diligent in your purpose.  If you cannot find contentment in your work, then you are in the wrong work.  Everyone I have ever known who lives well loves their profession, and so they work hard by passionate compulsion. 


Nothing great has ever been accomplished that was not the result of uncompromising passion. 


It is an important point that you should strive to find a profession that will allow you to fulfill your purpose.  And, it is your passion for your purpose that will slice through the inertias of daily life.  The passion of an artist provides no choice.  Remember that contentment is something subtlety different than happiness, for persons of great responsibility may or may not be lightly happy in work, but will find deeper contentment in the fulfillment of a greater purpose. 


Even if your purpose is to watch beautiful sunsets, it will not be an easy task if you should desire to be your best in doing so.


2.  Play hard. 


Enjoy life.  This is, of course, part of working hard, if you love your profession.  But, it means knowing how to have fun.  It means feeling as good in a suit or a beautiful dress as in jeans.  It means not taking yourself, or others, too seriously.  As Jesus said, "Solomon in all his splendor was not clothed so well as one little flower."  The things from which you take enjoyment do not need to be expensive or complicated.  There is nothing more simple in life than a sweet kiss or a giggle.


3.  Love others. 


Do your best to love everyone.  This means being unselfish.  By definition, you cannot love and be selfish.  Love is selfless.  As a human being, our most basic nature is to survive, and that is, if anything, selfish.  Certainly, in that regard, it is natural to be selfish.  But, in that regard, it is also base and the condition of animals.  It is by love that we transcend ourselves.  To give your life for others is certainly the highest form of love, to give your possessions less so.  The Stoics teach that there is nothing you own, only things are borrowed, including your life.  There is nothing more wise that this statement.  Therefore, you should understand that you will have to return everything you have or will every have.  Understanding this fundamental point is where understanding of love begins.


Perfect love is tantamount to martyrdom, which is, I suppose, a different type of fulfillment.  Although we are guided by the star of perfect love, living well does not require perfection—it is enough, I think, for you to be guided by the star without necessarily having to touch it. 


4.  Respect life, and the rules of nature. 


It is the state of nature, neither good or bad, right or wrong, that a lion will eat an antelope.  A bear will eat a fish.  You will accidentally step on many ants.  It just is.  It has been.  It will be. 


There are very few things that are generally good or bad except as we make them so.  But, it seems bad to kill anything alive, not from necessity, but for pleasure or sport.   There is a subtle meanness in killing for sport; or, possibly, not so subtle, just ubiquitously overlooked.  As Abraham Lincoln said, "it may be just an ant's life to you, but, I suppose, for the ant, it is a rather important thing."


But, please do not misunderstand this point.  Cats will chase mice.  Two rams will butt heads.  Birds will eat worms—as they sing.  There will be war.  It is the way it is.  It has been.  It will be.  Society may advance, but never human nature.  Do not try to contradict nature.  It is folly, and an inherently frustrated purpose, to try to re-invent the fundamental way of things.  Not all mountains can be tunneled, but they all can be crossed.  The important point is that, whether by prayer or other appreciation, you recognize and understand the cycle of life from which we all will take, and to which we will all give. 


But, if you ever laugh at nature when you take life from her, I assure you that she will laugh when she takes life from you.


5.  Help others, whenever you can.


Where love exists, helping others is a natural incident.  But, you can still help others out of discipline, even if you do not love them.  It is rightful that you should use your strengths to help the weak and vulnerable.  I have tried to reconcile living well with the probable inability to purely love everyone with an appropriate real-world unselfishness.  Here is the best I could do:


                                Consumption without limitation is gluttony.

                                Production without consumption is drudgery.

                                Neither extreme could be intended.


                                It seems rightful to produce all that you can without drudgery.

                                And to consume all that you can enjoy without gluttony.

                                But, in all cases, to do your best to consume less than you produce,

                                and to contribute the remainder

                                to those that are unable to produce what they need to consume.


People that live well are generous. 


6.  Understand that, for better or worse, life will end.


Space without boundaries is a meaningless void.  There is no circle without the encompassing line.  Life is the inside of a circle, and death the encompassing line.  It is death that defines our life.  Without death, there is no life—or it has no meaningful definition.  Death gives time its importance.


Remember that, with every laugh with your friends, you will likely be at their funeral or they will be at yours.  This point should not be depressing, but it should be deepening.  It is the way of things.  Napoleon said, "space can be recovered, never time."  And, so it is that each moment is precious.  There is nothing more important that I have ever done than, as my father did, each day telling you and your mother that I love you with a kiss.  For I recognize that, one of those days, it will be the last time.


I love you,

Your Father

Copyright 2006 by Gregg R. Zegarelli.  All rights reserved.

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