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Tuesday, August 10, 2021

What Makes Life Worth Living?

I lie in bed thinking. And then I thought that this mass in my head is doing it. And then I thought, what a magnificent thing, that all those neurons, synapses and whatever, like electrical wires are coursing through the mass that resides inside my skill. Such a strange mass it is, a lump that if you didn’t know what it was and found it in your yard you would think you ought to buy it.

 

Of course, it belongs in the skull, not in the yard. We carry a powerhouse atop out shoulders, yet we spend most of the day whining, and throwing chemicals at the powerhouse spurring it to work better, run faster, be smarter, get with the program, make us happy.

 

I’m not a spring chicken, and I suppose that brings with it a certain amount of urgency to get things done. I read once that if you want to know about death ask a 70-year-old, they’ve been looking at it across the street for a decade.”

 

I say, yep, look at it, then get on with life—that’s what you’re here for.

 

What is my purpose? What is my dream? What is my passion? How can I be of service? How can I feed my soul good things when I hear so much bad stuff? How can I combat negativity?

 

Questions of the ages, yet one lone soul had the audacity to stand up and say, “Our purpose is to live in joy.”

 

Do you believe that?

 

This morning I heard Oprah quote Maya Angelo. “I come as one, I stand as ten thousand.”

 

For Oprah, it was her people behind her, the ones that had price tags attached should they ever be sold. They were listed in a slave ledger, Donna, $900, Lydia $800, an 11-year-old girl $500. She will not let herself forget where she came from.

 

I grew up thinking that war was just the worst thing that could ever happen. I heard about Hitler, and I saw the pictures of skeleton people with skin stretched over their bones, people from barracks, emaciated, so when I hear someone say, “Let’s kick their butts,” or happy that we “Bombed them back to the stone age,” my heart aches. I carry those remembrances.

 

Oprah daily sees a painting that has prominence on her living room wall. It’s of a slave mother standing on the sale’s block holding her daughter’s hand.

 

Should we remember or forget? Is this remembrance a constant damper on our joy? Tell people to be kind to each other, love each other. Must we flagellate ourselves with something we didn’t do and can’t erase from the past? Aim for thoughts that feel better. Raise someone up when they are down, but first take care of yourself. That isn’t selfish. If you are limping along a dangerous trail, straight down on one side, wall on the other, shale slipping, do you want another limping person beside you, or do you want someone strong, someone who takes your hand and says, “It’s okay, I’ve got you.”

 

Be that person.

 

Yes, when we walk into a room, we carry those 10,000 people with us. But could it be that those people, instead of being slaves and victims, are warriors?  They are our mothers and fathers. They are the ones who escaped tyranny. They are the ones who immigrated to this country to make a better life. They were the pioneers that crossed the prairies to build a home. They were the suffragettes who fought for women’s right to vote. They are the ones who formed unions to give workers a living wage. They were our grandparents who farmed and fed a nation. They were the ones who wrote a Constitution to ensure that democracy shall prevail. They fought for gay rights, birth control, a woman’s reproductive right to choose, and the end to child labor. And they are still out there building wells in Africa, trying to stop selling and enslaving women for sex, believing that not one person on the earth should starve, and that people should not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the strength of their character.

 

See how long that list is? We don’t have baggage we have the spark of life in us.

 

President Truman placed a sign on his desk as a daily reminder: “The buck stops here.”

 

I suggest in response to the rabble “out there,” that we adopt that attitude.

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