Racing to a life that's good

Opinion: Ken Trainor

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter

By Ken Trainor

Staff writer

Sunday morning past had that "true-Sunday" feel, which I seldom feel anymore. Sunny (befitting Sun-day), more early spring than late winter, strollers out in force in Scoville Park with parents in tow. Residents rediscovering the out-of-doors after a long, hard winter. Kids in T-shirts, shorts and even bare feet with the temp barely topping 50.

"Don't care, don't care," they seem to be saying. "It's time, it's time."

Just came from a soul-swelling church service with those irrepressible Unitarians doing eight-part rounds, led by the heart-singer himself, Nick Page, haunting his old stomping grounds.

Runners stride past Red Hen, numbers attached, having just completed "The Race That's Good For Life," an annual event for the physically fit and the wanna-be-fits hereabouts.

In the rush of Sunday good feeling, I start wondering, what's good for life — and more to the point, what is a life that's good?

The race that's good for life may extend life but doesn't guarantee its goodness. An extended life, though, gives us more time to live a life that's good. Quality of life may be improved by health but isn't determined by it. Contrary to the cliché, when you have your health, you don't have everything.

Conventional wisdom also has it that early to bed and early to rise makes us healthy, wealthy and wise. But we all know health doesn't lead to wealth and wealth can't purchase wisdom.

Nonetheless, having done the things that are good for life, what more is required for a life that's good? 

No life is immune to sorrow, of course, and no life devoid of joy. So a life that's good must make room for both, allowing joy to co-exist with suffering. 

A life that's good means having enough, but not too much — hoarded as a defense against not having enough.

A life that's good involves more than one's own life. It means wanting other lives to be good too. A good life seeks the common good and speaks out against those who prevent what makes life good for the many.

A life that's good includes beauty and the ability to appreciate it; wonder and the ability to marvel at mystery; decluttering and the ability to appreciate simplicity; laughter even when the laughs on us; paying attention so we don't miss moments of fleeting happiness; sympathy and the ability to see the world through others' eyes.

No life is without loving and being loved. A life that's good includes the courage to get close to another.

A life that's good offers opportunities to be of benefit. It includes pleasure, but never at the expense of others. It involves recalling "then," imagining "yet to be," but savoring now.

A life that's good is better with friends. 

It means never giving up the search for what is real and what is true.

A life that's good is creative, productive, loving, giving, receiving, joyful, sorrowful, useful, funny, beautiful, inspiring, sharing, meaningful, stimulating, pleasurable, painful, healthy, searching, truthful — but not all at once and not all the time.

It involves change and growth and decay, death and rebirth, ends and beginnings. The race for a life that's good is long for some, short for others. The finish line is seldom in sight, but we know it's coming.

The race for a life that's good is not a competition. It can be a stroll, a jog, a jaunt or a sprint — or all of the above. We're in the race together, but it doesn't matter where you finish — or when. 

A good life is not necessarily an ideal life, not necessarily a prosperous or pleasurable life. But neither is it a good-enough life.

That bar we set higher.

As on this Eastery true-blue Sunday morning in April when the world is looking good, the year renewed, and the race suddenly winnable.


Reader Comments

No Comments - Add Your Comment

Note: This page requires you to login with Facebook to comment.

Comment Policy

Facebook Connect

Answer Book 2017

To view the full print edition of the Wednesday Journal 2017 Answer Book, please click here.

Quick Links

Sign-up to get the latest news updates for Oak Park and River Forest.

MultimediaContact us
Submit Letter To The Editor
Place a Classified Ad

Classified Ad