Posts Tagged ‘how to live well’

It was Friday night after work and we were at Bino’s Bistro and Crêperie in Hillcrest feasting on crêpes, tiredness, love and goofiness — trying to reprise us four years ago in Paris, recovering from too much San Diego this last week and indulging in the elemental and eternal concoction of comfort food and comfort family to stave off mental dysfunction, work ennui and certain death.

Diner came to our table as bacon, tomato, avocado, mozzarella cheese and spicy Chipotle sauce on a fresh, tender slightly chewy crêpe — it was a California Crêpe.

Dessert consisted of orange-Grand Marnier sauce, vanilla ice cream and whipped cream on a tender fluffy crêpe — it was Crêpe Suzette, and we clashed forks over it.

Here is the deal for us humans — food and people, never leaving out the people are necessary to thrive.

At Bino’s the owner came to our table and confabulated with us about his former restaurant in Coronado, his five black cats who take walks with him, his many and varied crêpe recipes and his repository of odd and desultory memories. He was charming.

And that’s it, people are charming, mostly, or not, but we love them, need them and ought to feed them a dose of our attention and warmth and appreciation for being the crêperie inside of the crêperie of the very essential ice cream and whipped creme crêperie of them!

I had lunch last week with a sweet friend who brought fresh veggie sandwiches for us to inhale. “People,” she mused, “teach us stuff, all of them.”

It’s true and beautiful to see life this way. The ones who fail teach us how to fail or remind us not to fail in precisely the gruesome and horrible ways in which they fail. The ones who succeed teach us how to succeed, in precisely the terrible and horrific ways in which they succeed.

Each person is a meal to us, each one a dessert!

So here is my human-restaurant recommendation. Yelp people, find people, visit people, consort with people and consume all of them!

People are the crêpes of life, and life is better if we munch on as many of them as we possible can.

I had lunch with some old ladies today. I like old ladies! They like to eat and laugh and talk and eat — with each other. Me too.

One of them, Louise, told me she has been making quilts. “They aren’t quiet,” she said. She isn’t either. I like her.

Another one, who is Irish, told me London is her favorite city. It’s mine too! We bonded — Londonishly. I like her.

Several of us talked about the need to connect better with other people. It is possible to “change,” one of them effused, to grow toward being more social. She recently moved in with her daughter and her daughter’s husband, and she told us that she has come to love her son-in-law. “I love him, she said. “It wasn’t easy,” she added.

Amazing! She’s in her eighties! I like her.

I used to be shy; now I’m not — way not! Some of my friends used to be very quiet. They sure aren’t now. Like me, they’ve morphed. We’ve become little old ladies, groupish, inclined toward eating with other people while laughing. Tough guys and CEO-type girls can learn stuff from old ladies.

I believe in personality miracles. What was socially dead can live again, and inspire others to pop their turtlish heads out of their safe shells too. At any age, we can make new friends.

It seems to me that we humans tend toward shy, quiet, guarded and reserved, but that we would be happier if we became free, open, loud, zany, nonjudgmental, safe and more social.

The little old ladies think so too.

Of all the desultory tenderness of life to love, the household intimacies stand out.

This morning I cleaned my master bathroom. My wife cleaned the downstairs bathroom. My daughter cleaned her bathroom. I liked it. My cleaning time was a happy spraying, scrubbing and rinsing, a kind of putter-headed hum and buzz and calm that comes amid the keeping, caring circular motions of washing things. 

The ho-hum, assign-and-be-done, domestic particularities,  the dirty dishes, the tubs of laundry, the vacuuming , the dusting — chorish and dutified as they be thought — they rank, crank and bank sweet, sane, solid satisfaction.

It’s not the little things in life that drive us crazy; it’s the little things that keep us sane — a clean toilet, an uncluttered counter, a folded stack of clothes.

What we do to order the borders of our rooms and homes and yards  and offices make up the warp and woof of wondrous, wellish, woofish world.

Cleaning is craft.

This morning, with a spray bottle and a rag I humanized my most intimate space, my master bathroom, turning spotted, stained, dust-covered counters and toilets into gleaming, clean, smooth surfaces for my most intimate preparation rituals — those everyday, private motions of cleaning, brushing, trimming, washing, combing, moisturizing and scenting my own body.

The art and trade of cleaning and of organizing is the art and trade of personalizing our most sacred spaces.

Last week I emptied a drawer in a cupboard, threw out all the faded, fossilized flotsam that had piled up there over several years  —  old phone chargers, abandon power cords, beat up photo frames, a stray dice —  and put back in order those things I still want and need to keep on hand.

Life is just this —  the fiddling though detail, the categorization of the personal particular, the cleaning, placing and keeping of our stuff, and the tossing of the dice. It is a decision, to live as orderly or as messy as we choose, to ignore the voices of our mothers telling us to clean our rooms, and to heed our own soft, non-judgmental voices, telling us what degree of mess, muss or made-bed we want.

Life is a sorting, a chucking and a storing business that takes place within the vertical and horizontal props and privacies of our favorite walls and floors and ceilings. There we hunker down, do our own work, make our own domestic map, live as we choose.

I love it.

I’m not for maids or house keepers, or yard guys either.  I’d rather clean up after myself, or not, as I choose.

I am my own standard of order, I vibrate to my own cleaning chord — and sometimes my wife’s. I  live as I choose on my own steamed-cleaned carpet, mown lawn, within my own flower garden, my own lily pond, my own patio, in the cubicles of my own closet organizer, in my own self-painted, self-decorated bedroom.

I wish to keep it this way, to do my own household tasks, to live close to my own humanity, to make my own bed, clean my own toilet, say my own household prayers, wash my own dishes, mow my own yard, shave my own face, take out my own trash.

It’s sanity, this happy, soothing looking after oneself and ones family.

I want to keep cleaning my own bathroom, not because it’s humbling, but because it is intimate.

None of us perfectly fit someone else’s template for living. We are unique, and here in the Unuted States we love to claim that. Each person is unique; it’s our folk wisdom National Anthem.

Maybe each person is unique, and each country is unique, but none of us should ignore a wise template for living. The good life looks surprisingly similar here in the US, and we who are older should tell younger people this. We should show them this, with our lives.

Look now, this is child’s play; no it isn’t, but we shouldn’t ignore life smart.

Those who marry when between the ages of 20 to 24 are nearly twice as likely to get divorced as those who get married between the ages of 25 to 29 years old.

Personal maturity matters when it comes to marriage. When it comes to being single too!

In our culture, people with more education tend to make more money. There are exceptions. Not that many.

  • High school drop outs: $18,734
  • High school graduates: $27,915
  • College grads (with a bachelor’s degree): $51,206
  • Advanced degree holders: $74,602

Does this matter? Well, people with higher incomes tend to live substantially longer than those without.

What doesn’t work?

Heavy drinking and drug use doesn’t work.

Research has identified subtle but important brain changes occurring among adolescents with Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD), resulting in a decreased ability in problem solving, verbal and non-verbal retrieval, visuospatial skills, and working memory.

Men who get divorced, and stay divorced, that doesn’t work so well either. They are at really high risk for premature mortality. It would have been better for their health had they not married at all.

Conscientious people tend to stay healthier and live longer. Striving to accomplish your goals, setting new aims when milestones are reached, and staying engaged and productive generally prolongs life.

There isn’t a need to go on and on here. Point made; some ways to live are better than others.

Solomon wrote:

Nothing is better for a man
than that he should eat and
drink, and that his soul should
enjoy good in his labor.

This also, I saw, was from the hand of God.

It matters that we make decisions that move us toward maturity, toward stability, toward lasting relationships, toward meaningful work, toward being responsible, toward enjoying the life God intended for us to enjoy.

The good life has always looked pretty much the same. It is responsible, it isn’t drug and alcohol dependent, it involves having been trained in something, it is not too rushed. It takes work, it involves loving, close relationships, (whether married or single) and it includes God!

College isn’t for everyone, marriage isn’t always the good life, money isn’t a panacea, some can’t work in regular jobs. I’m not trying to promote a middle-class, materialistic ethic, but maturity, training, hard work and having enough to take care of yourself and others matters.

Here is the deal. Unique is often not that unique; noncomformity and irresponsibility may be kind of fun for a time, kicking back can be a kick, falling in love young is an awesome feeling, but ignoring a smart, responsible, proven template for living — it can be a disaster.