When I first began this grand thought experiment, I was intently interested in exploring all the finest things that life had to offer. During my regular writing sabbatical since 2013, I’ve attempted to enjoy exactly that, as well as trying varying degrees of media deprivation–hence my long absence from posting.
Without going into an extended diatribe on every little thing I did (and, thereby, removing your reason, dear fellow journeyer, for continuing to visit me here), I did want to reveal the greatest lesson about living the good life I learned.
Living the good life is not about how fine the things are with which you fill your time and space. Sure, you can save up money and buy the finest watch you can think of…for me, it’s been my Omega Seamaster chronograph, a watch I’ve been obsessed with since learning it was the watch that James Bond wore, and I highly recommend it. I really, really, really like that watch, and I’ve been through a plethora of watches until finally getting my hands on one. But, all it really does is the exact same thing that all the other watches I ever owned did…it lets me know what time it is. And what’s wild about that is that time is really nothing more than a human construct; so, it really doesn’t do much of anything except keep me tethered to an universally agreed upon social contract that keeps us all in line. Crazy, right? But, it does look good on my wrist…and, I enjoy wearing it…it satisfies me. And, so, it is good. But, it is not, inherently, any “better” than any other watch I’ve ever owned.
So, it has been, and is, with every other “fine thing” I have either explored or owned or rented or borrowed or tried during this little experiment. Whatever it was, it might have been more or less expensive; but, the amount of money put into it had nothing to do with the inherent functionality of whatever it was. Leather jackets? I’ve owned hundreds; and, they all did exactly the same thing…kept me warm and dry. Cars? I’ve had them from Honda to Lexus; and, they all did exactly the same thing…got me from point A to point B. Beer, wine, or booze? Yep…you guessed it…while, invariably, the more expensive the better the consumption experience, they all did exactly the same thing. And so on…you get the point.
Were the more expensive things made better? Again, almost invariably, yes. So, in that sense, they were, in fact, “better.” A Gibson is a better guitar than a Yamaha. But, it does the same thing; which means that it is not the money in the things with which one fills their life which makes it “good.”
So, what, then, constitutes the “real” good life?
In looking back over the last few years, the one constant that has made me feel the best, that has made me feel the most satisfied, and that has made up the memories which I cherish as moments during which I was truly living “the good life” has beenthe people with whom I was enjoying those “fine things.”
Whether I was with my wife and daughters on a camping trip, sleeping on the ground, or on a trip to the finest beach on the Gulf coast, it wasn’t what we were doing that made me happiest–it was being with them.
Whether I was sitting in a parking lot outside the old laundromat on Baxter Street tailgating for a UGA game, or cruising the lake on a beautiful ski boat made little difference because I was with the same people, having the same conversations, and enjoying the same fun either way.
My point is that living “the good life” has little to nothing to do with how much money you spend on what you’re doing; living “the good life” is about having good people with whom to spend it.
Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, to all my closest friends who have come along with me over the years on this little experiment of mine. Now, don’t go thinking this means I’m giving up my good beer, good wine, good food, and good times…I’m looking forward like you wouldn’t believe to the next ride on Bill’s awesome boat, and sharing a new scotch we haven’t tried. That’s NOT what I mean. What I mean is that those things do not equal “the good life;” because, I’m just as equally looking forward to the next fish fry at my parents’ house, with my brother and his wife, our other family around, just sitting around, watching videos from when we were kids, and being with one another.
The point is…the good life is a life filled with those things for which you would not accept any amount of money.
And I’ve got a LOT of those!