The other night I got caught up in a continuous philosophical loop at about 2 in the morning. As sleepless nights go it wasn’t a bad one, full of fret or anxiety … this one was about what really matters. Literally. At 2 AM in a half-sleep stupor on the verge of restful slumber I muttered these words deep down in my psyche:
“What really matters?”
That subject stayed with me over the next 3 hours. I mulled over the concept, about what is really important in life. There are some trivial, peripheral dramas playing out around me right now – and some not-so-trivial major ones as well – so the question became a vital one. I needed an answer to help me make a decision. I needed to refine my focus.
Earlier in the evening I was listening to music, playing some Madden football on the PC and … brace yourselves … drinking some beer. An old song came on that I like by a band that no one likes at all anymore. The song talked about the end of life and, more specifically, how a person might spend their final day on Earth. That song played again in my head, like a soundtrack, in the wee hours of the morning while I contemplated the truly essential bits in life.
Now I’m not here to say that I know what’s important in your life or that there is some universal equation for fulfillment. Happiness varies. What makes your life meaningful may be the exact opposite of what makes mine worthwhile. Some folks fish for zen; others run for peace. There is no problem with what you like to do, with how you spend your living days – or with how you would spend your final one – as long as your pleasure doesn’t increase anyone else’s pain.
Unless pain happens to be their pleasure, but that’s a horse-whip of a different color.
In the three hours I had between the time I asked the question until the time when it was morally acceptable to get up, I answered it for myself. If you’re my friend reading this you already know that my last day would involve time with big beautiful golden dogs, a good three hours in a bar, and an evening of wrapping up RPG storylines. There would be loud music, superheroes, the ’99 super bowl, a lot of writing, a bit of reading, and a barrel of beer. You know that my beautiful companion would be by my side every moment possible. You know that you would, too.
Every day that I am alive I spend as much time as I possibly can with my wife, with my dogs, with my friends, with the Avengers, with the Rams, with my imagination, with this medium, and with a safe amount of ice cold beer. I don’t fish and I don’t hunt and I don’t run unless I absolutely have to. I don’t begrudge another person their pleasures, though. Not ever.
Take a moment today, if you have one, to ask the question of yourself. Try not to wait until 2 in the morning, and please don’t wait until your last day. But if it was your last day, how would you spend it? Once you know the answer to that question you will know what really matters. Go and do as much of that stuff every day as you possibly can. I’m happy to say that I do.
Hey, I guess there was sort of a universal equation for fulfillment, after all.
Now plug in your variables and solve for why.