Who of us doesn’t want a rich life? Is that not, in itself, one of the main reasons why we desire to create deliberately? We want this, that, or another thing–be that a possession, the feeling of love, more success, greater health, increased wealth–and we usually want such because we live with the mistaken belief that these will make us happy. By living in this manner, we unknowingly place ourselves at the mercy of our own ignorance, for we live as we perceive. We are the ones who ultimately decide just what holds meaning and value.
What if, however, we were given wakeup calls–or reminders–that have the potential to transform our experiences and also deepen our appreciation for the richness that is inherent in life as it is? Everyone who lives long enough will experience such reminders. I know I have. Of course, it’s also true that we may be oblivious to them. Today’s wakeup call arrived as news that my neighbour who shone as an example of a wonderful human being has died. Unassuming, quiet, honest, kind, a gentleman and a gentle person–these terms described him well. For the purpose of this article, I will refer to him as Richard, for he deserves his privacy in death just as much as he valued it in life.
Given some of the conversations we shared, I think Richard would have agreed with the following: That we are immersed in a society–at least in the Western world–in which we honour things, degrees, achievements, money, fame, and prizes to an outlandish and unhealthy extent. Daily, we are bombarded with messages implying that if we purchase this or strive toward that we will be happier. Such distractions may initially yield a sense of happiness, but that happiness usually fades or fails us to some degree or another. In our private moments of the soul, we may repeatedly experience a subtle and unsettling feeling of discontent: “Why is this new house, car, or relationship, stock dividends, mountain climbed, first-place finish, or trip to the moon not making me happy?”
As we mature and evolve, we may consider ourselves fortunate if we awaken to the answer, which is simple yet profound: Because those things can’t. When we mistake symbols of wealth or achievement as the source of true joy, we will always lose. Not once or twice, but always. Until we learn the lesson, we will continue to experience the subtle or even painful suffering of the soul. The good news? That there is nothing we have to do, chase, or deliberately create to inherit the true richness of life. As the saying states: The sun shines on all of us.
So what, we may ask, is the true source of joy, and where can it be found? In simple but glorious moments of life itself. Such is often hidden in plain view: In the gleeful laughs of children playing in a yard; in our breath; the beat of our heart; a freshening rain; the smell of newly-mowed hay; the holding of hands; the flight of a soaring eagle; the funny walk of seagulls scrounging for scraps; a starry night; sunrise and sunset. We may also find it in wonderful individuals such as my neighbour, now transitioned to life much greater, who gave of his time to share in our short but meaningful visits. May he rest in peace. And may all of us appreciate the true richness of life that surrounds us…right here, right now.
Dare to dream (and care for one another).
With heartfelt regards,
Copyright © – 2020 – R. Arthur Russell
P.S. Please share this article if you enjoyed it. If you’d like to view my latest book (This Taste of Flesh and Bones–released September 8, 2020), press here. May it help you in your spiritual journey. 🙏🙏