Saturday, October 23, 2004

Week Eight, Theme

To live a life of meaning requires realizing that one day you will die. I don't know who said that, but I know I've heard it (or something pretty close to it) before. There are two ways that can be intrepretted: realizing that one day you will die causes you to live for the moment. to live for yourself and what you have to gain; or realizing that one day you will die causes you to live in a way that those you leave behind will be better off for having known you. I choose the latter.

The older I get the more I realize that life is not about what you have and what you don't have. All this crap that we spend all of our lives trying to accumulate is not going anywhere with us the day we draw our last breath. It is far more important that those I leave behind remember me for the value I added to their lives, not for how many toys, cars, or pairs of diamond earrings I owned.

I remember looking at pictures in a Sociology book that was addressing the different status' that people hold in life. One photo showed a family all spread out, sitting in a stately looking room; fine furnishings, oriental rugs, huge fire place... all the luxeries life could afford. The other showed a family of four standing closely together outside; their clothes showed tell tale signs of wear, the man was unshaven, the kids' hair was unruley, and the mother looked somewhat frazzled and worn. But the actual things in the photos are not what I remember most. The "rich" people were all spread out and had stoney, posed smiles on their faces. The "poor" people? They were standing so close together there was barely a glimpse of light between them, and everyone of them had a huge grin on their face... especially the kids. The difference in their composure speaks volumes to what makes a life meaningful. Its people, not things!

Yeah, things are great, we have lots of things... okay, way more than we need. But I'd rather have the time to go outside and rake leaves to jump in, or play tackle football... than spend time worrying about payments and getting expensive toys fixed. The catch about having things is the more we accumulate, the more we want; but the more we have, the less time we have. Having a dishwasher is great - but there's something to be said for taking the time to wash dishes by hand (yes, even though we have a dishwasher) with my daughter. Why? Because we spend time close to each other, we bump elbows, and we talk. We talk about school, we talk about how her feelings were hurt when her friend said something mean, we talk about how goofy the dog looks when she sleeps upsidedown. We just talk. I can't talk to a dishwasher... except to curse it out when it didn't get all the mashed potatoes off last nights plates.

"They" say it's quality time, not quantity that counts. Well, I say "Why not both?" Day before yesterday we made an apple pie together. The crust came out horrible, tough as leather. Sure, a store bought pie would have tasted a lot better... and made a lot less mess in the kitchen... but what's really important? I know the answer. And yesterday we planted tulips out back along the edge of the woods. It took about an hour... I could have done it in a half hour by myself, but my son helped count out the bulbs and decide where they went. An hour of time to talk about whatever. Honestly, I can't remember everything we talked about, but I do remember the funniest thing. After we had about 10 bulbs in the ground, he confessed "Mumma - I thought you was going to plant light bulbs in the ground and then hook them up to a switch so you could turn them on at night... that's why I came out to help." Well, even though we weren't planting light bulbs he stayed and helped... and we talked some more.

Talking to them, that's what's important. Not yelling, not doing for them, not even giving them everything they want. They'll remember our talks. They'll remember mumma had time.

6 Comments:

Blogger johngoldfine said...

I particularly like your thoughts on pies, mashed potatoes, light bulbs. The only thing that made me nervous were those dueling pix in the sociology text. I'm sure you interpreted them correctly, but, speaking from my own observation, I don't think having a loving family is correlated, directly or inversely, to social status or possessions. That is, you can be rich and close, you can be poor and distant--an argument could be made that poverty stresses and undermines every aspect of life including family love. I realize the conventional argument goes something like there isn't room and time in most people's hearts for both people and things.

October 24, 2004 at 12:13 PM  
Blogger johngoldfine said...

In the previous comment I don't mean to scant the stories in your piece which are prime stuff, and you clearly understand the assignment.

October 24, 2004 at 1:35 PM  
Blogger johngoldfine said...

In the previous comment I don't mean to scant the stories in your piece which are prime stuff, and you clearly understand the assignment.

October 24, 2004 at 1:35 PM  
Blogger johngoldfine said...

In the previous comment I don't mean to scant the stories in your piece which are prime stuff, and you clearly understand the assignment.

October 24, 2004 at 1:35 PM  
Blogger johngoldfine said...

Pretty impressive itchy impatient finger in the two out of the three previous comments, eh?

October 24, 2004 at 1:37 PM  
Blogger josiejo said...

I agree... we were poor but shattered, others are rich and shattered; and of course the opposite holds true too. I'm not a big fan af "group labeling", but it worked in the piece...

Funny side note about the aforementioned one hour tulip planting - turns out I didn't know as much as I thought about it... so we planted 45 bulbs upside down. Needless to say, the one hour excursion was extended by another hour the following day; which involved digging them up and replanting them. Son got a big kick out of the fact that Mom screwed up... wish we had planted light bulbs now!

October 24, 2004 at 8:51 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home