Recently, a high school friend wished me a happy birthday and at the same time delivered the news that the younger brother of an old friend had died suddenly at age 59. We both expressed our dismay at this sad event and agreed that every day is precious and that we should enjoy life more. It made me realize how much I really do try to enjoy life. There's a reality about enjoying life that we sometimes do not take into account. You don't arrive at a place where maybe you are retired and don't have to do anything but enjoy life every day; it doesn't work like that. I've found that you need to work at enjoying life.
We all know that enjoying our family is most folks' top priority. It involves work. Maybe you don't see your children or grandchildren as often as you should. We get busy, most of us must work, and that treasured family time becomes so rare. This is where the work comes in. Sometimes you have to get creative in order to find mutual time with family that works for everyone. I can always work harder at this and I rarely feel as though any of us gets enough of that time.
Pursuits that enhance your life; where does that time come from? Well, it never seems to come in one long continuous stretch. You take your happy pursuits when you can. Fit some in here, jam some in there. I personally enjoy riding motorcycles. In my younger days, I would ride to work and make sales calls on a motorcycle. Combining work and pleasure was doable, but there were drawbacks. Most of it revolved around weather, clothing, and storage space.
Being able to afford the more expensive recreational equipment, like a motorcycle means additional jobs in a place like Vermont. If you want to live here and enjoy recreational toys and equipment you've got to get creative about obtaining them. For me, it has always involved doing work on the side, or moonlight in Vermont as many of us call it. If I hadn't taken on so many outside projects over the years I would not have been able to afford the equipment necessary for the kind of recreation that I enjoy.
I recall a young lady commenting that "it must be nice being you. Cars, motorcycles, you've got it all." That made me laugh and it also reminded me of one of my favorite sayings. "The harder I work the luckier I get." If you want to enjoy your life you literally have to work for it and work at it. You also have to want to enjoy life. Lots of folks can't enjoy their lives for a myriad of reasons. Some don't know how, some deny themselves pleasures purposely, some feel unworthy of life's enjoyments. I've been that person at times in my life. I've felt as if I didn't deserve to enjoy my life. Well, work can also correct that perception, too.
I've observed that people with a lot of interests tend to enjoy life more. Having many interests means that some are waxing while others wane. Reading and photography are two more of my lifelong interests. I'm never without a good book, and my photography interest comes and goes, usually it goes away for a while when I have reached a plateau in the learning curve. When something comes along to rekindle the interest I find it easier to learn some new aspect of photography.
I'm finding that with each passing year I realize more of what I don't know. We can't possibly live long enough to learn enough about our world, about science, nature, literature, art. It's a sad fact that there will never be enough time, but if you have a somewhat inquiring mind, you will never be bored.
Yes, it was a birthday that sparked that exchange with my old classmate. Her birthday is just two days after mine, so our minds occupy a similar space at this time of year. We look back, we look forward and we look inward. We know that it's a brief ride, we know that with another year gone the ride has gotten shorter and we know that we'd damned well better squeeze as much living in as we can.
Arlo Mudgett's Morning Almanac has been heard over multiple radio stations in Vermont for nearly 30 years, and can be tuned in at 92.7 WKVT Monday through Saturday mornings at 8:35 a.m. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of the Brattleboro Reformer.