What is your life metaphor?

Life is hard and then you die.

Camp chuck!

Which of the above would you like to be a part of?

Both are phrases that two of my good friends use.  Do you want to be a part of  Team Life is Hard and Then You Die or Team Camp Chuck (where everyday is like Summer Camp).

I must admit that I spent a lot of time as a part of the Team Hard up until my mid-twenties.  In college my guiding philosophy toward people was “Don’t expect much of people that way you will never be disappointed.”

A friend named Steve Patton pointed me at  a book called Learned Optimism and in forties I stumbled upon some Anthony Robbins books. 

Now neither book contains the answer to life (that would be the Bible), but both contain valueable lessons in moving towards creating a life that you enjoy.  One thing is how you think about life.

Life is Easy / Life is Good

For a couple of years now, I have flucuated between Life is Easy and Life is Good as metaphors that adorn the inside of my journal and the sheets of paper that I call my focus points and help me remember key goals and key lessons learned.

You may object to both of these metaphors because it might not reflect your experience, but give me a couple of minutes and let me explain.

Life is Easy

Some people object to this metaphor on the grounds that most successful people work very hard to get what they want and that to get good at something you must put in a lot of practice.

The disconnect is that we associate “work” and “practice” as “hard.” 

For me, though, life should be “easy” and by that I mean that we should design our life around choices that are things we enjoy. 

Hate your house?  Pick up and move.

Can’t afford too?  Make a list of what you don’t like and pick five things to improve for the year while spending as little money as possible.  Go to your friends house and (silently!) make a list of things that you like better about your house.

Repeat for your job, family situation, and relationships.

My yard has always been a source of “hardness’ in my life — ivy growing up trees and fences, a lawn I have to mow, trees that need to be trimmed. Yuck!

A year ago I decided to make peace with the yard. 

The ivy can have the fence, but I get to keep the trees.  The trees are friends to trim or cut down if theyare in the wrong place.  Mowing the yard is an escape of two hours a week in the spring to think about life and the yard itself.

I sit on the porch after I mow and run my sprinklers and smile and thank God for my beautiful yard.

Life Is Good

Death, disease, famine, bills, cats.

There are many things that we do not consider “good” in this life from the serious to the amusingly annoying.

I will save my long discussion of death for another day (short version — it makes life precious), but like the “hard” things in life, the “bad” thinks in life can be redeemed.

One of the small “bad” things is when good friend move away from each other.

We may see each other on facebook and wish for a chance to hang out and play cards or wish that our families could grow up near each other.

There are, of course, the truly horrible things in our society — hatred, abuse, and death.

One thing to focus on is what we control?

We have each day of our life to make an impact for good in the world regardless of what was done to us or people we know.

 We can turn to God and ask His help in redeeming the bad and turning it into good.

We have a choice each day to focus on the good parts of our life and celebrate those even if they are few and far between.

In most countries, we can make choices about our future — job, friends, relationships — that will allow us to build a good life.

For me, I see that Life Is Good despite some of the bad around me and I work to do little things in people’s lives to help their lives be a little better as well.

What’s the point?

How do you choose to see life?

If you think that “life is just something to get through” then I suspect (from experience) that your life will be that.

If you think that “life is about impacting people” then I suspect that your life can be about that as well.

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About kentostby
Kent Ostby is a fiction and efficiency writer who is willing to dabble in just about any other phase of writing as well.

2 Responses to What is your life metaphor?

  1. Aaron says:

    C.S. Lewis said something similar in his book “The Great Divorce”. To paraphrase –

    When some people die they will end up in Hell, and when they look back, they’ll see that their whole life was hell. They’ll see all the times they turned their back on God and all the times they shunned His grace.

    Those that end up in Heaven, will have just the opposite experience. They’ll see that their entire life was heaven. They’ll see all the times God made provision for them, and comforted them in calamity.

    Or something like that…

  2. chuck jaffee says:

    Not being very attentive to blogospherics or Facebookishness, I can’t help but respond appreciatively to a forwarded email telling me I was mentioned in an entry that I probably would not have noticed (first time I’ve experienced such a forward). Wow, out of left field, Master Kent refers to me and CampChuck.

    If I may, I will inject a couple illustrations, not from a CampChuck-like attitude, but from CampChuck itself. I’ve bicycled tens of thousands of miles in my life. While I’m not nearly so gonzo as I was twenty years ago, I am still very pleased that I continue. I can remember one bike trip where I bicycled 90 miles one day in 95 degee heat including a pass requiring a 4000 ft. elevation gain. I remember insufficient water being part of my insufficient mindfulness. Worse to perform in was the next day when I was clearly heat prostrated. Every gently uphill mile of that subsequent day was a chore of managing to peddle on, peddle on, peddle on, in a normally unnecessary low low gear. I relate this so as to say that that bike trip, those two days are part of the fabric of why bicycling satisfies me so. My toughest days bicycling, my weariest feelings because of such days, rank near the top as my most satisfying days.

    That bicycling example is 20 years old, but just last month I was bicycling a 20 mile day where the hills were steeper and more one after another than I had anticipated — and the wind was not helping. Past my 60th birthday, there was still no doubt in my mind (even as I complained to myself and prodded myself to keep on chugging [keep on chucking]), there was still no doubt in my mind that this is the “easy life” I try to afford myself.

    Reflecting on the reference to a friend moving away as a challenge to feeling “Life is good,” I think (as I often do) of my best friend. He moved away. Actually, he died ten years ago, died painfully from cancer before his 50th birthday, having lived an exemplary life that you might guess (hope) was immune to such a fate. I’ve spent little spirit decrying the “badness” of his passing, of my being without him. I am with him repeatedly in the memories and inspirations of the friendship and myriad journeys we’ve shared … how much impressive life he had lived in the comparatively short time he was afforded. I am with him repeatedly as I continue to watch how his kids have carried his spirit to their adulthood and how I get to interact with them in a vein reminscent of their dad. (Not incidentally, I bicycled 100 miles in two days with my best friend less than two months before his cancer-riddled lungs forbade him any more breath, and ten days before he died, he played goalie for his hockey team tethered by a tube to an oxygen tank attached to the goalpost.)

    I’ll close my responsiveness reflecting less heavily on the reference to the “yuck” of yard work. This very morning I continued my many many day ritual of weeding the large gravelled area on our property. I’m 95% done this rainy Spring, thousands of weeds pulled — no chemicals, no technology, just a meditative sense of obligation to my homestead. I confess I prefer a life scenario where this was not something I need to address (by whatever direct or indirect method). Yes, bicycling is more satisfying than weeding. Part of my easy meditative hard work is a ready understanding of how grand the balance of my life is. Another part is the visible, quantitative, and amusingly temporary accomplishment. Part of it is that I am something of a harmless moron who needs to keep the area clear around my tiny portal on humble wisdom and tricky (trippy) equilibrium.

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