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A Good Long Time

“Drink without getting drunk
Love without suffering jealousy
Eat without overindulging
Never argue
And once in a while, with great discretion, misbehave”
― Dan Buettner, Thrive: Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way

This world may just be a complicated mess. This world may be a miracle of experience and wonder. We skate between the two hoping to hold our optimal line as long as possible. The trick, I should think, is to lean into miracle and wonder lest we stumble into a complicated mess. We all step in it now and then, but a good life begins with the direction we lean.

Inevitably, we settle into a life that works for us. Sure, “settle” may sound like a compromise, and naturally there’s compromise in every happy life, but settle in this context meaning to realize over time that this is what you’ve wanted all along. The rhythm suits you. In rowing you settle into a steady state that you can maintain for the duration of the race, with a few high cadence sprints mixed in strategically. Life is a lot like this.

Some people never find that rhythm, and the dance feels a bit off-kilter for them. This is a clear sign that finding another dance club is essential. If the music and fellow dancers aren’t for you, why stay? A lifetime in the wrong beat with two left feet is no way to live. Turn the beat around, as they say (I’ve just betrayed myself as a punny uncle).

Digging into the lifestyles of people that live a long life, as Buettner does, you begin to see that the people who live best and sometimes the longest are those who simply fall into the right rhythm. Eat well, walk, lean into the company of life-minded people with whom you can share a story and a laugh with. Simple, really. And don’t you think that life should be less complicated anyway?

At the risk of introducing one-too-many analogies into a single blog post, allow me just one more: The fire that burns the longest is fueled by substance. Oak burns longer than pine, which in turn burns longer than kindling. When we build our lives around substance and meaning, we too can burn a good long time. That’s the thing, isn’t it? To not just live a long life, but a good life. That’s not settling at all—that’s something we reach for and hold onto for dear life.

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