Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Essentials of the Good Life

After dealing with the more mundane aspects of life earlier today, I find myself even more interested in sharing what what I have learned over the years.  I have discovered that most folks are not as privileged to live 85+ years as I have been.  Prompted by an article I received from an old (but younger) friend of mine, Tom Reid.   He was talking about the "good" life and to me, that starts with a purpose for living.

It took me many years to reach that point, mainly because I thought I had been abandoned early in life.  My father died before I ever got to know him and my mother had another child to care for in the truly "great" Depression years, the early 30's.  I was fortunate however to have been sent to the farm, my grandparent's farm, near Yale MI.   I often brag that I am a Yale graduate and purposely avoid telling them it was Yale High School, not the University in Connecticut.

My grandfather was the "salt of the earth" kind of man, very conservative and very deliberate in all that he did.  He was born on that farm and died there and one might say, he did the very best that he could with what he had and never asked for more than that.  His devoted wife, my grandmother was the perfect mate for him.  She was devoted to her husband and delighted in the four children they raised together.  I was special to her and partially because they had had a still born son shortly before I came to live with them.   The only real "counselor" I would have in those years was a beloved grade school teacher and another from my high school years.

I was a good student and longed to go on to college, but there were no resources for that and I so I seized the opportunity to join the Army Air Corps in order to qualify for the WWII "GI Bill of Rights".  At seventeen years and twenty seven days, I left "home" (as it was) and never returned.  So what I have learned about life came about as I was "on the road" for many years.

The military taught me two important aspects of life.   Be loyal to your employer and those who were your superiors.  It paid off as I became a Tech Sergeant (E-6) faster than most of those who entered at the same time.  I was decorated for my competency and that fact set me back for many years.  I looked for it in others and seldom found it, for many years.  It may have been because I was always eager to get "ahead" and had a difficult time dealing with my superiors and my associates as well.

I left the Air Force to enter college and was disappointed with what I discovered, mainly because it was in the South and most of my instructors and fellow students seemed to be more interested in "getting along" rather than getting ahead which had become the primary motivation in my life.  While I did graduate from college, I failed in a marriage and also, in dealing with others.

Tom's thoughts deal first with productivity, but that apparently has never appealed to me as I never really learned to be a team leader, even though I held such positions several times in my life.  I learned to be a "teacher" but was never the inspiration one ought to be to teach or lead others.  He makes a good point of creating good friends.  Today, if you knew me well, you might think that I am a "master" in that area, but it never came from my vocational training. 

They are, however, high on my recommendations to live the good life.  In fact, as a counselor in the area of employable skills, you should start making friends as early as grade school and maintain contact with all that you can, given the fact that we live in a more mobile society than existed when I was a youngster.  I look back and realize how often I failed to see the potential of my younger friends and now am amazed by their success in life.  That fact also taught me to become an encourager*, wherever and whenever you meet with others.  *(The word may not be in the dictionary, but it should be.  The world needs more people who are skilled in encouraging others)

He lists culture as an important asset and while that is true, it means that we ought to become familiar with people who are - in a word, different.  It is not always easy as many of the "others" in life are often suspicious of becoming acquainted with people who are not the same race, nationality, sexual orientation, etc.  In my generation, we were more often taught to avoid them.

I am not an expert on family life as I am not proud of the fact that I have children and sadly, grand children who know literally nothing about me.  But I have discovered that being good friends with fellow workers, neighbors. church members, and others, can more than make up for that loss

And finally, he comes to the most critical aspect of my life and learning, that is, spirituality, you know, church or similar affiliations.  It took me nearly forty five years to come to the realization that we were not created, haphazardly, as I had thought for all of those "lost" years.  Religions teach that there is a God and there are some who teach that He is a figment of our imagination.  In my life, there is and there is no disputing of the fact there is a God, a creative being.  We were created so that God could have a family here on earth and over the centuries, He has taught us that such a relationship is a matter of our love for Him and for one another.  That is the so-called, bottom line.  His love for us demands reciprocation, but not if we are not interested.  That is where religion tends to confuse the matter as each of the several religious forces on earth seem to want to disagree with the others, negating God's commands that we love one another.

I have waded through that confusion in the past forty years and have finally found a home where love really matters to one another.  Just send me an e-mail at sherwood8028@hotmail.com and I will provide you with a full exclamation of all that it means to me.

It has confirmed to me that there is a priority for our pathway through life and it involves the following factors for living life as it was meant to be.  They are, in order of importance:  Love others, no matter what might held you back; be true to yourself, your elders, family and be honest with all others; reach out; seek new horizons, we live in a dynamic world where change has become the norm; have fun, enjoy yourself and personal pursuits as long as they do not interfere with the needs of your immediate family, and finally, become the encouragement that is more often avoided in the stress of every day living.

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