A couple weekends ago I went home for the celebration of my grandfather’s 89th birthday. My grandmother, and his loving wife of 61 years, also turned 85 two days prior to his birthday. In celebration of their long and beautiful lives we had a family get together and people drove in from all over the place to be there for this special occasion. We made dinner, played games, and of course listened to plenty of grandpa’s stories. Stories about how my grandma “cornered” him at the ballroom back in 1947 when they first met. Stories about the many years they spent running a dairy and poultry farm and all the blood, sweat, and tears that went into their life’s work. And of course the stories about how things were different “back then”, people worked harder, complained less, and as always the kids were more respectful.
As I sat amongst so many people I loved and listened to this great man tell his stories I found myself thinking, he has a life well lived. What does that mean? What makes a life well lived? I think for my grandfather part of what made his life well lived was his hard work, his travels, and watching is family grown over the generations. But what about my life? Surely I haven’t done anything thus far that could compare to what my grandfather has accomplished. The more I thought about it the more I concluded that a life well lived is one taken a day at a time. If I approach each day as an opportunity, a chance to do something great (no matter how small), then when it’s all said and done I should be able to look back with appreciation for my life well lived. But that’s where the difficulty lies because on days when you wake up late, miss the train, get stuck in the rain, and forget your wallet, it is hard to see this as an opportunity to do or experience something great. Challenge yourself. Today as I stood in the miserable cold wind waiting for the train, I noticed that in the dark the sparks of the train meeting the rail look like a million dancing lightning bugs or maybe little fairies flashing cameras. This simple observation and flight of imagination made my wait more bearable, it brought a smile to my face, and my life was better lived in that moment.