Sunday, April 3, 2016

Life Is Amazing, Dripping With Sweetness

Life is amazing, with many beautiful opportunities, but some people can't enjoy it because they are slaves to their jobs and slaves to the material god of trying to keep up with the Jones. People are buying cars, boats and new kitchen stuff, borrowing, borrowing, borrowing money and living beyond their means. No matter what income level, they all do it and they all go broke.

People have so much stuff that they have to rent storage units to store their extra furniture, clothing, baby toys and kitchen cutlery. Storage companies are making a mint off people who can’t stop buying things. Because things are so cheap in America, this addiction is available to everyone, rich or poor. You see the poor’s things left on the side of the road, there’s too much stuff, they can’t take it with them.

There are a few people who say to themselves, “I’m sick of being a slave, I’m sick and tired of doing a job that I hate, just so I can pay a mortgage and credit card bills and medical bills.” These rare exceptions of people actually have a plan to get out of debt, save their money and work on doing what they really love to do. They work their plan daily and over time, they achieve their dream.

My dream was to become an independent writer and write for myself, and work from home and live with my books and my art, my scholars and my poets, my family, my friends and my garden. 

I have a friend who was working in an office, she was like several other people in this office. She ate too much and got no exercise and was obese. My friend had the body of 62-year-old female even though her actual age was 47. Her heart and lungs had the capacity for a sedentary life. She got upset with herself and did something about this problem. In 12 months, she lost over 100 pounds through diet and regular exercise. My friend is amazing. She is an inspiration. She hikes in the woods to lose weight, connect with friends and nature and create moments of lasting joy. She is happier today than she has been in years. She learned this valuable lesson: If you have your health, you have everything.

The key to happiness is this:

The less you have to own in your life, the more stripped down your wants are, the happier you become. You become connected to the ground level elements of nature, the flowers, the birds and the bees and humanity. No need for fast food burgers, no need for a chocolate latte, no need for cookies, cake and Pepsi-Cola. It’s enough to eat rice, broccoli and an apple.

We all have our pain, agony and demons, but I choose to focus on whatever is lovely, whatever is divine, whatever is kind and of lasting value.

When I was living in Europe in 1990, I stripped down my needs to the very basics. Literally, all I owned was in a backpack. My diary, my camera, my socks, my underwear, shorts, shirts and pants and sleeping bag. I had a little food and a jacket for warmth. I kept my money and my passport in a money belt around my waste. That was it. I stripped away everything else, no car, no wardrobe, no TV, no boat, no phone. Yet I lived amazingly well, life was so full of color, adventure, beauty. Each moment was like a brilliant awakening of dripping sweetness. The sun rises for the poor and the rich alike. I was poor at that time, I had a negative net worth financially, but yet I was rich in experience and life. I saw beautiful cathedrals, fascinating works of art, Picasso, Van Gogh and Goya. 

When I was in Greece, I remember meeting a young man who had made a small fort in some bushes on an island called Paros. He was an Englishman who had saved enough money in the wintertime, to live without working all summer on this island. His camp included a sleeping bag, a fire pit, a few utensils for cooking, water bottles, a book and a bottle of wine. Not much. But what freedom he had! The opportunity to go to the beach every day and feel the water on his body. He could run, he could swim and he could rest. And most of all, he could talk to people.

The most joyous moments in life don’t come from acquisition of things. No. I  believe the greatest joy is in sharing time with people, beautiful people, in long enriching conversations. I remember one night some new friends and I stayed out all night, drinking and dancing in this disco. At 4 a.m. we walked to a coffee shop and ordered coffee. We sat on the ground with some architecture students from Athens talking about architecture. Giant cathedrals, ancient buildings, the Acropolis and the modest white and blue houses of Greece -- all of these things were ours to see and experience. 

Purple colors of the Red Bud trees wash over my garden. The house finch takes a bath. The bumble bee dances around the flower. I am not dreaming. I am seeing the majesty of nature. And where is this color? In my backyard, in the public park across the street. It is all there before my eyes if only I  am willing to open my mind and look around. I remember getting lost in watching ants build an ant hill. They worked so diligently building their castle. If only I would work as diligently as these ants, maybe I would build something remarkable, too.

Live without things that cost money and focus on capturing moments that cost nothing but time. These connective moments with humanity and nature are what create joy and contentment, to me, a far larger accomplishment than acquisition of your latest trinket or toy or gun that you add to your ever growing collection of stuff.  Stay away from over-consumption, retreat to the garden.

Join the select group of people who want as little as possible. They are stripped of needless desire. They delight in the morning sun, they breathe in the air deeply and they smile at the house finch in the birdbath. They cherish love with others. They are content. They know life is amazing dripping with sweetness.


  1. I want to thank my friend Brian Carr for inspiring me to write this. Thank you Brian. You don't need to read this because you know and live it already.

  2. Thanks for sharing this Mike! I will have my son Joshua read it.