WHAT IS ESSENTIAL TO A LIFE WELL-LIVED?
The Pillars of a Good Life
After days of The Lighthouse looming on the horizon, The Traveler has finally come to the end of the road. Stories of the old building are told all over The Land. The building is impossibly large and inexplicably surrounded by land on all sides. The Traveler heads up the path leading to The Lighthouse, when a voice calls out, “Hullo, friend!” The voice originates from an old structure on the side of the path, where a man sits underneath the portico.
“What is this place?” the traveler asks, scanning the collection of buildings that litter the Lighthouse grounds.
“It’s a little bit of everything,” says the man. “An inn, a school, a library. A place where people find what they are looking for. And what is it YOU are looking for, hmm?”
“Well I’m not quite sure, to tell you the truth. Answers, I suppose.”
“When one seeks answers, it helps to start with a question.”
“I suppose I’m looking for one of those as well, then,” says The Traveler.
“Very well. But first, a fact. I hope I am not alarming you when I tell you that one day you will die.”
“You aren’t, but thank you for that gentle reminder.”
“My pleasure,” the man replies.
The Traveler stares at him, waiting for a point to present itself.
“It would seem to me, then, that armed with the knowledge of our mortality, the foremost question should be: How can I live a good life?”
“A difficult question,” says the traveler.
“Indeed, but far less so than we seem to make it,” says the man, standing up and gesturing for The Traveler to follow him inside.
They walk into a large open room, the roof supported by pillars that match the ones outside.
“In many ways, a good life is like a well-made building,” the man says, placing his hands on each column as he walks. “A few well-placed columns hold up the weight. Remove one, and the whole thing comes crashing down. But, as we fill the rooms with objects, we tend to focus on the furniture, and forget the foundations. In architecture and life, it comes down to a few essentials.”
“And what would you say those pillars are?” the Traveler asks the man.
The man leads The Traveler into a side room, where the walls are covered in tools, and the pieces of an unfinished chair are lined up neatly on a workbench.
“Industry,” the man says, with his hand against a pillar in the middle of the room. “Working with my hands, creating something out of nothing, productivity.”
They continue to a room covered wall to wall in books. “Knowledge,” the man continues. “I never want to stop learning.”
As they head back to the front of the home, a small girl runs up to the man. He picks her up and gives her a kiss on the head. “And, of course, my family”
The two walk back outside and take a seat. The Traveler considers what the man has said, and asks, “So what I need is a hobby, a family, and some books?”
“Perhaps, but not necessarily”
“That’s not an answer,” says The Traveler.
“Well, it wasn’t a very good question, was it?” the man replies. “You asked what my foundations were, and I told you. But this,” he gestures to the building, “is my life. You can’t have it. In the same way that I cannot have yours. While you may come to the same conclusions as I have, that is something you must decide for yourself.”
The man stands up and gives the nearest column a few solid raps with his knuckles. “This building was here long before me, and I expect it will remain long after. It required much thought and effort. A good life, like this house, does not happen by accident. It is made deliberately.”
“So I need a life plan?” The Traveler asks.
“A fool’s errand. Life happens, with little regard for our plans or wishes. What I suggest are reflection and intention,” the man turns back to face The Traveler. “So now it’s your turn, my friend.”
“WHAT IS ESSENTIAL TO A LIFE WELL-LIVED?”