Living the secret of life

Opinion: Ken Trainor

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By Ken Trainor

Staff writer

The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time. Any fool can do it. There ain't nothing to it.

James Taylor

On a night in July with cicadas performing a symphony of perfect dissonance and block parties on every third street despite the drizzle, those with the most mature tree canopies staying the driest, the sky overhead assembling and disassembling by the half-hour, clouds running for cover as if fleeing some crisis, worrying about a son soldiering in the Deep South, after a day keeping a dear friend company, I start thinking about the secret of life.

The secret of life is paying attention.

The secret of life is actually living instead of watching other people live, living minus the media, unmediated.

It's enjoying the passage of time, in synch with time's tempo.

The secret of life is standing in relation, eye to eye, I to You before returning reluctantly to the world of It.

The secret of life is giving the soul space to live, room to breathe, right behind your eyes, just inside your ears, on the tips of your fingers.

It is reminding yourself of what you already knew but forgot.

It's discovering why each day is unlike every other day. 

And knowing each day is unrepeatable and irreplaceable.

The secret of life is hearing the murmur of each day's heart.

It is curing someone's loneliness and curing your own in the process.

It is here, now, this thought, this feeling.

The secret of life is taking an occasional sojourn beyond your own borders.

It is knowing when to turn and face the storm.

And being unafraid of the true dragon.

The secret of life is noticing when the trees are heavy with ripe meaning.

Saying yes to life when you can't think of why to say no.

It is wondering sometimes where the words keep coming from. 

The secret of life is understanding there is more to us than meets the ego.

It is getting a glimpse of your vaster self.

The secret of life is hearing the music in the voices passing beneath your open window. 

It is harmonizing head and heart.

It is learning how to love and be loved.

And sacrificing for someone who matters to you.

The secret of life is seeing God in the smallness, hearing God in the silence, and touching God in simplicity.

It is recognizing that the search for meaning is meaning's doorframe.

It is passing through meaning's doorway.

The secret of life is about us, not about me.

It is between you and me.

The secret of life is between.

The secret of life is harmless.

It is the whisper at the end of a long silence.

It is calling the soul to open its reservoir and pull something out of its hat.

A natural spring springing forth, a cataract, the eye of the land, weeping its wisdom.

The secret of life is the spirit of life rustling among the leaves, thinly disguised as a night breeze.

It steals around the next corner, ever elusive but never entirely out of sight, tantalizing and leading us on, as if taking us somewhere we've never been but secretly want to go. 

The secret of life is gratitude, wonder, awe, grace, inclusion, diversity, complementarity, reciprocity, sympathy, balance, beauty, responsibility, passion, wisdom, freedom, reverence, connection, transformation, justice, acceptance, truth-telling. Take your pick. Better yet, take them all.

We still haven't figured out what life is and how it came to be. The spark that animated the inanimate. We describe how it functions, label it, compare it to what it isn't. But how it came about from the Big Bang soup remains a mystery. 

Is the secret of life the Holy Grail of meaning? It's hard to imagine there could be just one.

There are many secrets of living, which are an open secret, part of the public record.

The secret of life, on the other hand, is figuring out how to live them.

Contact:
Email: ktrainor@wjinc.com

Reader Comments

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Bill Dwyer  

Posted: July 29th, 2018 9:14 PM

Nope. Just someone who's lived long enough and made enough mistakes to realize what's really important in this world.

Brent Borgerson  

Posted: July 29th, 2018 7:25 PM

Bill,were you a Boy Scout? Nice observations! brent

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: July 27th, 2018 6:50 PM

"The secret of life is gratitude, wonder, awe, grace, inclusion, diversity, complementarity, reciprocity, sympathy, balance, beauty, responsibility, passion, wisdom, freedom, reverence, connection, transformation, justice, acceptance, truth-telling." .. .. Yep. Pretty much covers it. Excellent piece, Ken.

Brent Borgerson  

Posted: July 27th, 2018 6:38 PM

Ken........, one of your better ones, maybe the best of your better ones! Quite possibly your best one yet! brent borgerson Oak Park

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