After 2020 can you identify what is most important to you? Is it money, health, family, good TV? Maybe good government should be on the list? Or good health care? Or freedom? Most of us don’t really know what is the most important until something causes a disruption. 2020 caused issues for almost everyone in one way or another.
In many ways the most disrupted aspect of my life in 2020 was health. Gandhi said, “it is health that is real wealth, not pieces of gold or silver.” Of course, without a little gold or silver you would starve. Not a healthy situation. But when you are ill or broken, you know, at least for that moment, that good health is the only thing that matters. Once your healthy again, you soon start to worry more about money than health; so maybe money is more important than health. Or maybe, if you have money, you can buy health? Maybe not?
I’ve written about my belief that community is essential to a good life. That can be family, religion, maybe even a gang; but we all want to belong to something. I think that feeling a sense of community is becoming more difficult. But maybe my sense of community is all wrong. Could a community of people on-line suffice that need? I’m skeptical, but it does seem to work at some level, just not for me.
The one consistent value in my life has been a sense of accomplishment. There is no question my self-worth has been based on my success at whatever I was trying to undertake at that time. Student, businessman, author, artist, accountant, whatever it was; my desire for success (money?) was the driving force in my life. I was not a joiner, so my world was work and my family. If I was successful at that time, everything was fine. During periods, and there were many, when I was not successful; I was miserable. So, is that a way of saying the most important thing to me was my ego?
Not being a joiner meant that community to me was usually ridiculously small. A few friends and family. However, there was something that I had not given much thought to until recently that had provided me comfort. It was being an American. I’m not a nationalist and have often been critical of the leaders of this country. But I had a sense of belonging to the idea of the USA. I admired the dreams, hopes and ambitions of a country full of all kinds of people striving to achieve their personal goals.
A nation is a community, even an exceptionally large nation. Nationalism is the ugly side of that community but feeling a sense of belonging with your fellow countrymen is not bad—it is good. The history of the country is your history—yes, even the bad history. It is the same feeling we have with family; it isn’t always perfect, but it is ours.
The frightening and ugly scenes of a mob storming the capital were disturbing. They laid bare the ugly truth of how divided we are as citizens. I know there are people who just want to destroy, out of anger, or disappointment or fear; they want to smash things. While I watched this display of anger all I felt was sadness. Even though the people carrying out this offense are only a small fraction of the people of the country; they represent an attitude that is widespread. It is an attitude of entitlement. I have a right to destroy. I have a right to smash and break because I feel I have been disrespected. I have not received my fair share. I have been slighted.
I have no idea how you get to the mind set that violence and destruction are the appropriate remedies for your failure, but apparently many have reached that conclusion. They are wrong.
At some point in life most of us realize the things we worry about the most, jobs, money, careers, status, houses, possessions are of little real value. Family, health, accomplishments, and community are all keys to a good life.
My goal is to write books, not because I make money or achieve fame; but because it is what I do. It makes me feel good about me. My goal is to be a better husband, father, grandfather, neighbor, person and citizen. Achieving those goals is controlled by me, not the government, or the President, or my next-door neighbor, or anyone other than myself. I will have a lot of help, much of which will go unnoticed; everyone in my life helps me achieve my goals by being my community. I also will help myself by helping others.
“There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle.” – Albert Einstein