This I believe…that a life lived well need not be a life of celebrity or fortune. Some of the best things in life are free…and there for the taking. A gentle breeze on a hot day. A simple hug when the world is on your back. The smell of freshly-cut grass in the summer…or of freshly-baked cookies in the winter. The crisp scent of autumn. The sweet smell of spring. The sound of laughter. My dad would point out each of these things…if only I would take the time to listen.
This I believe…that a life of honor shows in the smallest of details. A well-worn picture tucked into a wallet. Thirty years given to being a volunteer fire fighter. Making sure the widowed neighbor’s driveway was plowed out before heading off to work. Breaking ice off the water trough so the cows could drink, knowing it’d have to be done in another hour or two – and doing it anyway. Staying in the barn all night when a cow’s sick. My dad never realized the value of what he taught me…he was just living life the way he thought it should be lived.
This I believe…that a life of simplicity can yield the richest rewards. My dad didn’t need fancy cars, grand vacations, or great sums of money. He worked hard to keep his cars running – and never once did he own a brand new one. His vacations, when he finally started taking them in his fifties, consisted of sometimes attending the annual firefighting conferences in Atlantic City – most summers were spent haying, springs were for sugaring, and winters meant snow to be plowed and firewood to be split. Money, for my father, was important in that it bought what food the farm couldn’t provide, and allowed for Christmas presents and back-to-school shopping.
My dad is gone now. But his lessons continue, and I find myself realizing others that he showed me – which I simply didn’t recognize for what they were. I wish I had the opportunity to thank him for all he’s taught me, and all I’m still learning. But maybe that is another lesson in itself….
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.