Life is a delicate thing. Very often, however, we treat it with less regard than it deserves. It has to be one of the advantages of getting older that the preciousness of life is increasingly obvious and the need to participate in it fully becomes more compelling by the day. To think of life as an oyster to be consumed, while advancing its invaluableness and emphasizing its rewards, is not exactly what I had in mind. Rather I am thinking more along the lines of putting out, not taking in.
Being productive involves being creative. For my own part I have long ago recognized that the generative feature of my being is closely aligned with order and control, not elements which most people would associate with original thought. Nonetheless I have learned over and over again that the pursuit of happiness will seldom succeed along the path of mere indulgence. The good life of caviar and Champagne is in many respects mere fiction which does little if anything to advance one’s appreciation of living. I never fail to rebound upon the more secure foundation of regulation and steadfastness.
Given the speed at which our life, like the grains of sand in an hour glass, is vanishing, a good bit of regimentation may be just the thing to keep us on track in our endeavors. One needn’t assume that the imposition of discipline is a completely tasteless undertaking. Indeed it is my experience – perhaps from my highly ordered days at boarding school – that a system of rule of conduct or method of practice can be far more liberating than imprisoning. It is a well-known adage that nature abhors a vacuum. I however am not convinced it is so. The theory of course is that we live in a universe where energy prefers to move from more coherent forms towards more diffuse forms, as for example gases accomplish through physical diffusion and mixing. This may however amount to mere gibberish about entropy. There is in my opinion nothing natural about filling the void of one’s life. Just as the majority of the universe is more or less empty space, so too can one’s life be absent any particle of meaning unless we do what we can to help nature fill the void. The thrust of this admission is that we need to put our back into it, assisted by equally well-accepted principles.
As much as I might appear to favour rules and regulations, it is perhaps paradoxical that one such convention is to allow oneself to absorb life without trying to dictate its course. This is no easy matter especially for those of us who presume to manage our future and our successes. Naturally I am not here talking of educating oneself or even the tutelage of travel. Instead I mean the willingness to contemplate the flow of life, to permit its flavours to permeate our being without impediment.
Another dictate to my way of thinking is to do what we can to improve the lives of others. This may be nothing more complicated than responding to people cheerfully though it may certainly include more penetrating involvement in their affairs. Whatever path is adopted it is incumbent upon each of us to elevate the communication by consciously mature conduct. We forget that the ripened behaviour of adulthood is not something which exists only in quaint historical records. It is the blessing of life that each of us has the capacity to instill harmony and meaning into everyday activities. This is not the domain of the wise and intelligent; it is the mandate of humanity.
It is needless to delineate anything further by way of exemplification. I remember reading a book by Sir William Osler outlining everything that the young man should do and contemplate in order to enjoy a full and productive life. I believe the book was standard issue for the young men of Trinity College School in Port Hope, Ontario. As anyone knows there are many prescriptions for the perfect life. About as far as I am prepared to go is to say that life requires some order.