How Do I Make Life Worth Living?
What Can I Do Today? #118
Last week I wrote the article, After Retirement, in which we discussed passion, purpose, and retirement. I read an article by Amanda Knox the same week. Remember her - the Seattle college student nicknamed "Foxy Knoxy" who was jailed for four years in Italy when she and her boyfriend were charged with the rape and murder of her British roommate?
While her situation vastly differed from mine, her insights resonated with me. I wanted to share four quotes and their meaning for me - a widow and older woman on my own for the first time. Insights that complement having a passion and purpose and might enhance life long the way. The first quote is
I'd thought I was in limbo, awkwardly positioned between my life (the life I should have been living) and someone else's (the life of a murderer); I wasn't. I had never been. The conviction, the sentence, the prison—this was my life. There was no other life I should have been living. There was only my life, this life, unfolding before me.
Those words described my feelings of being caught between the life I want to have - with Dan and the reality of the day - he is not here. The truth - this is my life now.
She then said
And that allowed me to see my actual life for what it was and to ask myself: how do I make that life worth living?
Dan asked me to marry him on March 26th, 63 years ago. We built a life together, and I’ve agonized over how to make my life worthwhile without him. Having a new passion and purpose - that includes him in a way - is undoubtedly part of the equation, but how do I get through the day?
The third noteworthy quote is
That was a big question I couldn't answer in its grandest sense. But there was a smaller version of that question: how can I make my life worth living today? I could answer that. That was entirely in my power. So I did that. Doing sit-ups, walking laps, writing a letter, and reading a book were enough to make a day worth living. I didn't know if they were enough to make a life worth living, but I remained open to the possibility.
The critical point for me,"how can I make my life worth living today?"
Google suggests getting up early, expressing gratitude for what you have, doing something productive or fun, getting sunlight, and exercising.
These are great suggestions, and I do many of them. What makes the most significant difference for me is to do at least one thing daily that challenges or takes me out of my comfort zone.
I'm trying out a new idea: asking myself each morning,"how can I make my life worth living today? Today, I made muffins and worked on this article. Tomorrow, I am spending time with my great-granddaughter. Over the weekend, I went to the ocean and walked on the beach. Those activities add meaning to my daily life.
The fourth insight came from these words
while my new emotional default setting remained firmly stuck on sad—I woke up sad, spent the entire day sad, and went to sleep sad—it wasn't a desperate, grasping sadness. It was a sadness brimming with energy beneath the surface because I was alive with myself and my sanity, and the freeing feeling of seeing reality clearly, however sad that reality was.
I feel a constant, underlying sadness - life is not complete. Don't get me wrong - it's good - exciting things are happening, and there is sadness. That's how it is - but the sadness fosters my resolve to do my best every day and say yes to life.
Amanda faced more significant challenges than I did. She was much younger and armed with fewer tools. Yet, she managed to find a way to accept her reality and be at peace with her life. These are challenges for me - and everyone who wishes to age well.
Thanks for reading Aging Well News! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.