The chips in life fall, but not always to the swift or the wise. What makes a good life? Family? Food? Fun? People? Power? An education and career? Good health? All of the above?
Then what makes an average life? Or, a life that’s fraught with pain and sorrow?
For most of us, there are good moments in a lifetime, and some moments we’d like to rewrite if we could. I have my list.
Looking back, for me, as it probably is for most of us, life has been a mixture of good and bad moments, and many that are somewhere in-between.
Arguably, a life is made up of many choices and circumstances and consequences, and those thousand little sins.
Sins. Numerous instances of daily life where we didn’t do what we should have when we could have.
For most of us, the sins of life are small; over time, they add up. An extra helping of dinner, a few extra pounds, a little less exercise.
A thousand little sins can bring us, later in life, the pain of attempting to return to good health following years of slowly avoiding the steps necessary to maintain health in the first place.
Or not. I’ve learned it just doesn’t always work that way.
A thousand little sins may kill you, perhaps on the third or fourth sin, or number 893.
Circumstances befall us all, at some time or another. Winning a multi-million dollar lottery is a circumstance with consequences, perhaps the end result of a few sins; wasting money on a legitimized and sanctioned game with odds worse than Las Vegas.
For most, there’s a little less money in the pocket, but the dream carries on for another day.
Generally speaking, I can recognize some circumstances and consequences which may have been the result of one or more of my thousand little sins in life.
I once promised to call and talk to a friend who’d been ill. Before I knew it, the call was never made, and my friend had died unexpectedly.
For me, the consequence was living with some guilt that could have been avoided, and at times thinking that perhaps my own health problems were possibly the result of one or two of a thousand little sins.
That sounds too much like self made guilt in a circumstantial world, doesn’t it? I thought so.
Here’s a sentence my high school English teacher would love; red grading pencil tightly grasped in her wrinkled hand, a gleam in her eye as she counts the grade points I’ll suffer for creating such a monstrous creature disguised as a phrase:
We never always do everything we should do all the time.
In some convoluted way, though I’m not proud of it, and I’m sure I can do better, perhaps more succinct—that butchered phrase makes perfect sense to me; at a time when not much about life on earth makes much sense at all.
I can still hear her exasperated, scolding, tight-lipped admonition as the red marks flew, “Get to the point, Tera.”
Assume for a moment that King Solomon of the Bible was one of the wisest men ever to walk the earth. At Ecclesiastes 9:11, he wrote:
“I returned and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.”
Wisdom of the ages couched in phrases from generations long ago, in a book seldom read and less respected by the masses. How can that wise thought be summed up in today’s language?
Consider George Orwell’s take:
“Objective considerations of contemporary phenomena compel the conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must invariably be taken into account.”
A sin of over communicating the obvious?
In the final analysis of billions of lives through the ages, and the personal lists of thousands of sins committed, knowingly and unknown to and by all of us, remember what Tera Jean Patricks said about life on planet earth:
Deal with it. Get over it. Tomorrow never comes if you live your life to the full today.