First of all, I would like to thank you for taking the time to Skype with
our Personal Writing class last Thursday. We have all thoroughly enjoyed
reading your book and debating its contents under the guidance of Dr.
Nordstrom this semester. You are obviously a man who has accumulated wisdom
over the years, and we appreciate your willingness to share such wisdom
with the rest of us life "newbies."
In your book Getting a Life, you touch on a broad range of topics.
Discussing everything from the realization of death to the implications
of sexual bonding, you touch on subjects that are inherent to human life-subjects
that we must all, at some point, encounter and address. I personally believe
that understanding and accepting the reality of the topics that you discuss
in your book is the first step in "getting a life," because
in order to "get a life," we all must understand what it means
to have a life.
Life is about people. It is about family. It is about friends, and sometimes,
it is even about strangers. For example, in your world, there are hundreds
of people. In someone else's world, you are just one of hundreds. Understanding
that the world doesn't revolve around you can better allow you to interact
with the world.
Life is about relationships. In some relationships, such as dating relationships
and friendships, love is dependent upon actions and is typically reciprocal.
In other relationships, such as religious and familial relationships,
love is about connection, birthright, and duty; and the relationship isn't
necessarily contingent upon the actions of one side.
Life is about knowing what to hold on to and what to let go of. As we
grow older, we understand that winning a battle isn't always worth the
cost of fighting the battle. We understand that success isn't always defined
by one's GPA, annual income, or marital status. We understand that doing
the right thing is far more notable than satisfying our own desires.
In other words, getting a life is about gaining wisdom, which is essentially
understanding life. As humans, we will be able to better enjoy life by
accepting the characteristics and consequences of life, both the good
and bad. We must accept that one day we will die. Life isn't always short,
but it is sometimes shorter than we would like. If we accept now this
realization of future death, we will be able to more fully enjoy life
in the present moment.
Cop, you have illuminated many important points to me in your book. You
have helped me to acknowledge the fact that it is okay to have human instinct-to
feel pain, to enjoy creativity, to regret loneliness, to seek truth, to
question fact, and to acknowledge death. Essentially, you have helped
me to value the incredible experience that is life.
me thank you for your kind and supportive words - and for expressing so
many thoughts about wisdom that are worthy of comment and agreement.
common to all of your "Life is about . . ." statements is that
each involves looking outward beyond yourself-in-isolation to yourself-in-context.
Among the contexts you refer to are family, friends, various kinds of
love-based relationships, and the finite duration of our lives. And you
raise the issue of what is worth valuing in other contexts such as education,
employment, and marriage.
get the idea. You are the prime actor in the life you are crafting, but
all the action happens within a multitude of identifiable contexts. Sometimes
an action will produce a positive result in one context and a negative
one in another. So life is at times a balancing act, and the clearer our
understanding becomes of this overlapping matrix of contexts, the wiser
our actions are likely to be. Unfortunately, we all operate with inadequate
information, so our expectations and assumptions sometimes prove wrong.
Still, to the extent we are sensitive to context we will be better able
to understand what went wrong, and more likely to make a wiser decision
the next time.
already well on your way. Enjoy the journey as I know you will!