Life, death, and work

It’s been an odd couple of weeks here, and I suspect that I’m about to get rather introspective and perhaps even a bit maudlin.  J.’s uncle was diagnosed with cancer just over a week ago, and died on Tuesday, only a week later.  While we haven’t had to travel or really do much of anything, the phone calls, discussions, and general sad moments have made for a rather quite, introspective, and low-key week.  At the same time, though, life goes on.  There’s been a lot of work to be done that simply can’t wait that long.  The teaching, marking, writing, meetings, and workshops go on the same as they always do.  There have been walks, yoga, visits with friends, cooking, and cleaning, albeit with more serious discussions than we might otherwise have.

It sometimes strikes me how much death affects us and how much it doesn’t at the same time.  Clearly, we keep on living, sometimes in ways that are much the same as we always have (especially when the death is someone to whom we weren’t particularly close, as was the case here).  But for a few weeks – perhaps even longer, in some cases – there’s this heightened awareness of the actual living of life.  There are often questions about whether we’re living the life that we want, whether we have the best life that we possibly can given our circumstances, and whether we’ll be happy with what we’ve done when we die.

This past week, I’ve given even more thought than I usually do to what I want to do with my life, what’s important to me, and the kind of life that I want to live.  I’ve tried to spend less time working and out of the house.  I’ve spent more time talking with J., reading on the couch, talking with friends, and eating foods that I really like.  I’ve also given some more thought to what kind of big things I want in my life.   I’ve started doing some more research on land ownership, building houses, and sheep breeds.  On a much smaller scale, I’ve also pulled out some knitting, a guitar, new music to listen to, and a truly impressive stack of books that I’ve been putting off reading for one reason or another – nothing major, but all things that make life feel that little bit better.

Not every moment in life can be the highest of highs.  There will be lows.  There will also be a reasonable amount of minutiae that needs to be dealt with – paying the rent, doing the laundry, or waiting in line.  But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a lot of room in there to find many ways, even if they’re small, to make life a little bit better, a little more satisfying, and a little bit closer to the lives that we want to leave every day.  For me, today, that means spending some extra time on the couch with a novel, cooking a delicious dinner, and then watching a movie curled up under a warm blanket with J. and a large bowl of popcorn.  Everyone’s ideals and preferences will be different, but I hope you have a chance today to do something that you truly enjoy and that will make your life a little bit more wonderful.

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