When we purchased our cabin twenty-two years ago, there was a little white pine growing up in a shrub at the corner of the house. It was only about a foot tall. I thought it would look nice in the yard, so I carefully dug it out and transplanted it. Here’s a picture of it now:
I often stand back and admire “my little tree.” It didn’t get there by itself. During dry spells, I carried water to it from the lake. Occasionally, limbs needed pruning. Recently, it occurred to me that more time has passed since transplanting it than I may have left on earth.
My little tree and I aren’t so different. I didn’t get here by myself. Many have carried water to me. Time passes, and we grow through change. It’s probably a good idea to stand back every once in a while and take a look.
When doing so, are we happy with what we see?
It’s an important question. The answer depends on our criteria. Sometimes we’re tempted to evaluate life in terms of what we’ve accomplished, the status we’ve achieved, the possessions we have, or what others think about us. That can lead us astray!
What would be better criteria?
That, of course, is a personal question.
I began thinking about this many years ago. Pretty quickly, I decided I didn’t have clear criteria for a life well-lived. It’s not an easy question to answer. So, I began to search for my answer and kept a journal along the way. Notes from that journal often find their way into these posts.
I finally determined that my primary objective was to enjoy a meaningful life!
That may not sound like a beauty pageant answer, but there’s more there than first meets the eye.
Three things factor into my evaluation of progress against that goal; meaning, belonging, and joy.
Meaning to me concerns relevance, like where do I fit in and how does my life matter?
Belonging is about being accepted for who I am by the people I value.
Joy was harder to nail down. Ultimately, I found it can’t be pursued directly. Instead, joy ensues when I stop focusing on myself and my particular circumstances.
A tree needs to be watered and pruned from time to time. Life is the same way. It doesn’t do any good to set criteria for a life well-lived if we don’t actively work to achieve it.
I thought by sharing mine, I might get you thinking about yours!
My Grandmother loved planting things. She maintained a large garden well into her eighties. Years ago, I asked her when the best time to plant a tree was.
She said, “Today!”
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