What I could see is my hair turning white,
Or fine lines becoming more pronounced each year.
I could see the way my face and body are changing shape.
I could see that I still don’t really know how to style my hair, even at 51 years old.
If I look closely, I could see the evidence of battle scars from a life lived, including the hurts, betrayals, and failures.
But that’s not what I see. Not today.
What I see are my eyes that still manage to convey compassion and hope.
I see signs that I smile and laugh regularly.
I see life lessons learned well and applied.
I see joy.
I see peace.
I see love.
I see contentment.
I see me.
There is no shortage of good days. It is good lives that are hard to come by. A life of good days lived in the senses is not enough. The life of sensation is the life of greed; it requires more and more. The life of the spirit requires less and less; time is ample and its passage sweet. Who would call a day spent reading a good day? But a life spent reading – – that is a good life.
Annie Dillard, A Writing Life
I first came across this quote a few months ago, and it still lingers in my mind. In particular, two points have stuck with me. First, that a life of the spirit requires less and less. I have thought a lot about what this looks like. Is it less stuff? Less recognition? Is it feeling increasingly content and satisfied? All of the above, I think.
Second, that by talking of one’s life, I believe it will need to be worked on throughout my life. It takes time, intentionality, mistakes, lessons learned, vulnerability, patience and grace. Life is measured as a whole. I can look at its parts and evaluate how I am doing. But to look at my life, I must step back and examine the whole of my life – self, relationships, work, interests, thoughts, contributions, and so forth.
I would like to some day look back on my life and think of it as good. For there is no shortage of good days. But a good life is hard to come by.