Recently in a group meditation, I realized that I place a huge value on “living well” – essentially on living the sort of life that I could be proud of, and satisfied with, when I die. But there are so many different ways to interpret this.
There are at least three major dimensions to living well. There’s living ethically and with love, where the focus is on our right relationship to the people and society around us. There’s living well for ourselves, ensuring that I’ve done right by this being that I am, giving my Self the opportunity to fully bloom in my own talents, passions, creativity, and joy. And, for many of us, there’s right relationship with spirit, with God, with the creative force behind the Universe itself.
“The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return”
– Nat King Cole
I’ve been working this “problem” for most of my life. In college, I decided I’d been too focused on academics, and needed to balance with parties, drink and social life (lest I miss out on something fundamental to being human). After college, I decided I needed to contribute to the world through politics – that that was an essential part of living well and responsibly. Later in life, I came to more fully embrace my spiritual nature, and meditation and practice became part of living well. I decided that my body needed to be a “worthy carriage”, so I lost 30 pounds and built up my strength. Following this ideal, I at times added in writing, healing and facilitation, developing my Masculine side, even occasional musical expression.
“I invoke and dream Awake the Infinite Empowerment of my sexual, spiritual, mental, emotional, physical and financial relationship with Life.”
But I say “problem” because I see now that that’s how I’ve been relating to it. I haven’t been motivated so much by the positive – having a full, rich life – as by the negative – better not get this “life” thing wrong, you’ve only got one! What the recent meditation helped me to see is that I’m “never going to get it figured out”. I’m never going to land on the perfect formula for living my own full, rich life. It’s going to be a source of confusion and exploration every day that I walk this Earth. So facing that, I have an opportunity for despair – but behind that, an opportunity for surrender. I get to just live, and strive, in the muck and confusion with the rest of humanity.
In this context, “living well” becomes, simply, the best I can figure out, day to day, year to year. I can’t promise myself that I won’t have regrets, or wasted time. Indeed, I can promise exactly the opposite – because a life that’s so tightly controlled that it has no wasted time is no life at all.
“It’s better to regret something you did, than something you didn’t do.”
– Red Hot Chili Peppers