I envy Mike at Keep Trying in his ability to generate a challenging topic and then open the discussion on said topic in such a way that the discussion remains both thoughtful and interesting. He did this with yesterday’s posting on self-appraisal. I won’t reference much of his posting and the responses — you should take time and read these yourself — but I did want to comment on one paragraph in today’s posting.
I think one answer is that we are dealing with internal qualities. We have to ask ourselves these questions. This is very difficult. But if we believe that an important part of life is to improve ourselves then it is a worthwhile task. Having fun is great and necessary but that is just one small aspect of life. The pleasures of meaning and purpose are much greater and longer lasting than fun.
I walk, almost daily, along the beach next to the Golden Gate Bridge. This beach also happens to be one of the few areas in San Francisco where dogs are allowed off their leashes, to run along the sand and play among the waves.
There’s a particular black lab I know that comes up to you and drops her ball just out of your reach. When you reach for it to throw it for her, she lunges in and grabs it out of your grasp and then dances around in delight at her own cleaverness. Then back again with the ball, dropping it down, expecting me to make another attempt.
One of the Jack Daniels tries to keep up with the bigger dogs, running as hard as it can on its short stubby legs among the labs and the dobermans and the shepherds…until the other dogs run into the water.
The waves along the beach aren’t that small or that gentle and a small dog is not going to be able to swim in these waters. All that poor little Jack Daniels can do when his larger friends jump into the water is to stand at the edge and bark for all its might. Wave rolls out, he runs forward; wave rolls in, he runs back. That cute little bugger barking at the ocean, in his mind having brief moments of triumph when the waves recede, setbacks when the waves return. He only stops when his friends exit the water, at this point having achieved a state of truce with the water.
One of my favorite dogs is a beautiful Boxer who loves to play in the water so much that his owner has to restrict him because the dog would exhaust himself and drown — the play means that much to him.
Once, a large red doberman came out of no where, walked right up to me, circled behind me, and then sat down beside me as if we were in a dog show demonstrating obedience. She then leaned for all she was worth against my leg. And just stayed there, looking out a the water. I was astonished at first, and then just started laughing. It was a moment of crystalline pure delight. The kind of moment you can’t buy, build, borrow, or create.
Absolute joy at simple gifts. I define this as fun, and it is my greatest meaning in life. And creating a little of that joy in others is my greatest purpose.