Many throughout the ages seek the Secret of Life. Books have been written, motivational speakers have been hired, and prayers have been uttered to discover this ultimate knowledge. I am in no way claiming to have found humanity’s answer, but, for me, I think I’m reaching an enlightened state. Mostly I’m in a good space and that is part of the Secret.
Returning from one of my myriad trips to the grocery store with my daughter slumbering in the backseat my iPod randomly chose James Taylor’s “The Secret of Life” to serenade me. I was struck that James Taylor is somewhat of a prophet. He sings his own words that speak to me so richly. From “Shower the People” to “Fire and Rain” and “The Secret of Life” I get transfixed, lost in thought, and introspective. Does James Taylor hold The Secret to Life? Perhaps, but although I do believe it is simple, I think the secret is a bit different for each individual.
I only ever speak for myself. As I’ve often said this project is a journey, I’ve learned, to date, that surrounding myself with family of the heart (not always related) is one of the secrets. I am lucky and blessed to enjoy my family of origin, the family I created, and my friends who I care about like family. These people make me enjoy each day and add fullness to my life. When good or bad occurs, it is my family I turn to for celebration or healing.
Doing what you love would be another Secret of Life I’m discovering. I loved being a teacher. I reveled in the rapport I had with my students, my co-workers, and my subject matter. From seeing a student have an “aha moment”, having a student confide in me, and the shared camaraderie with fellow teachers, I immersed myself in my career and enjoyed every year I spent in the field. But, upon leaving the career to have and raise my children, I wanted to explore a different path. Writing was always a passion I had put on the back burner as an adult. I never made the time to commit to it and thus that part of my life stagnated. Once I started writing as a hobby my life changed immensely for the better. And, since I’ve embraced the idea that I am a “writer” my “career” in writing has exploded! I write for several outlets that publish my work on the Internet and have this site that lifts me to a higher plane each day. One of my writing gigs even parlayed into a segment on an Internet Radio program where I get to talk about NASCAR weekly. I am discovering that I love that, too! When work is what you enjoy, when you are inspired, invigorated, and correctly challenged, then work is no longer a four-letter-word, but a joy. Now that is a Secret I truly am thrilled to know and put into practice.
Accepting faults but trying to better myself without beating myself up is another Secret of Life. This one is a difficult one to master. I err; I’m human. But by being a parent who must model appropriate behavior and lifestyle choices, it is burdensome when I fall short of goodness. I am always motivated by love, but my frustrations can get the better of me. Learning to live in the moment and remembering clichés like “this too shall pass” and “will this matter in 10 years (10 minutes)?” is vital. I’m working on this. I haven’t mastered it yet.
Mostly it comes down to those lyrics of James Taylor again. He wrote, “The Secret of Life is enjoying the passage of time”. I’m finding many things each day that I am grateful for and thankful. I try to keep a smile on my face, stay in the present, and engage in my life, my children, and my world. As simple as that seems it isn’t easy. I am constantly refocusing and getting lost in the quagmire that is life, but pieces like this, songs by James Taylor and other artists, books and magazine articles I read, all help to bring me back to centered. Being able to do that is yet another Secret of Life.
The Secret of Life is a living, breathing concept. Like life, it changes. Change is a constant in our world so I try to embrace it rather than turn my back to it and fight it. The Secret of Life is not one thing for all people nor is it only one thing for me. And what it is this week may actually alter over the weeks, months, and years. But, I feel empowered thinking I’ve touched upon some of the Secret and hope you gleaned some of the Secret for you, too.