If you've read The Wife recently, you saw a few gems from her day. It's wonderful that she's able to experience these joys. I know with me being so far away her life is quite stressful (as if it wasn't already that way). It's encouraging to me that she is still able to appreciate these small but significant events.
Being here in Iraq and reading about back home has made me revisit some of Life's Big Questions. I figured out the Meaning of Life when I was just a teenager. In my 30's I realized something was missing, so I added it in and stood back to look at the whole. At the time, it seemed quite profound. It's only with the eyes of a 40 year old that I'm able to appreciate it's main flaw – namely that any grand philosophy able to explain the Meaning of Life has to be so basic and simplified as to be pretty much of no use to anyone.
If you care, my meaning boiled down to four (and later 5) points:
You Must Learn
You Must Teach
You Must Reproduce
You Must Experience Joy
In my 30's I added:
You Must Function as a Member of Society
I also put on the single caveat:
In order to claim you have fulfilled your function as a living person, you must have done at least 3 of these 5 things before you die.
We can all sit around and talk about this until the sun comes up, but the bottom line is that I've already realized how over simplistic it is and how unusable it is when it comes to real life. Save your venom.
The reason for all this background has to do with point number 4 – You Must Experience Joy. There have been times in my life where I thought things were too complex and stressful. I longed for a simple life of sitting around and being a vegetable. Predictability would be wonderful. No surprises.
Now that I've had a chance to experience that kind of life, I can tell you this – I'd really love some complexity right now. Give me a chance to figure out how to balance the checkbook and the kids soccer games. Let me coordinate my wife's hectic schedule with my hospital schedule. Let me try to schedule family trips and vacations while trying to please everyone. Throw some surprises at me (the non-explosive kind, thanks). Anything but same-old, same-old.
In order to experience joy, you must first be able to define it. Will you know it when you have it?
It goes back to the one phrase I coined. As far as I can tell, it's original:
"Throughout your life, may you know how good you've got it while you're getting it."