Enjoying Life For All It Is: A Lesson From My Father

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It’s true that we all process the death of somebody close in different ways. Since my father passed away, I’ve been walking a path that’s led me to putting together some pictures and creating a little movie of him at various points in his life. It’s been a sad process but very therapeutic and healing for me. What I didn’t anticipate was learning something else about my father. I hadn’t fully realized it when he was still alive, but it’s something that makes me appreciate him all the more.

Enjoying Life For All It Is

As I went through the couple hundred pictures I have of my dad and selected the best ones, I noticed that he had predominantly two types of faces in his pictures. Face #1 was a quiet, relaxed, observing type of face. It radiated a calm about it and also a sense of satisfaction, fulfillment, and a sense of simply being okay. The other face was him grinning in an almost boyish, sheepish way, and expressing a powerful joy of whatever was happening in that moment. What’s so interesting to me is that these two faces make up about 90% of all the pictures that I have of him.

With my strong belief in data, I assume most of these pictures were taken at random points in time. I also believe that these were the faces my father simply showed more often than not, which correlates with what I learned from some of the close friends and family during our ceremony to say goodbye. Their observation was that he was satisfied with things as they are and had this incredible skill of enjoying the moment. I always thought of him as a quiet, more introverted person. However, as I sit back now I come to the profound realization that many of us, including me, are actively pursuing this feeling of satisfaction and happiness in our own lives. My father passed away much too early. In spite of that, I can undoubtedly say that he’d found a very powerful way to achieve this state of happiness—something that you, I, and many friends might still be aspiring to.

Wouldn’t It Be Great

This reminds me of another story I’ll tell you which relates to this same theme. When my family and I were younger, we would go out to a nice place such as a beautiful lake in the mountains. My father would look around with an expression of pure contentment on his face and say, “Wouldn’t it be great to have a little cabin here?” Then he would go on and describe the details of how good life would be. His musings would rarely last more than 5 minutes, and afterwards the thought would simply vanish from his mind almost as quickly as it had appeared.

My father did this rather frequently, to the point that my brother and I would joke about it whenever we came to a beautiful place. However, what I notice is when the majority of humans have a craving like this, it often causes a discomfort or a sadness of not actually having it. For one reason or another, my father never dipped into that sadness. He was simply okay with things as they were. He never complained and was able to enjoy in the vision of something that was beautiful. When I think about it, my father had his own unique way of riding through life in the wheelbarrow. You can read more about the perception of happiness by looking at Are You Pushing or Pulling Your Wheelbarrow, or Are You Going For the Ride?

Many people practice for years to develop this sort of mindfulness of enjoying life for what it is and being okay with it. My father had simply mastered it. With his view of life and his gentle smile, he probably enjoyed more moments of happiness than many of us do. It’s one of those things I can be truly proud of when I think of my father because he achieved something that I realize I’m still working on.

What I hope can be learned from examining my father’s life is that we should never feel happiness is connected to the parts of life that are beyond our control. We should simply remind ourselves to celebrate everything that is, for when we develop this equilibrium it increases our capacity to be truly happy, no matter what life throws at us or what comes down the pike.

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