Enjoy Life and Do Good!

05/06/2016

(The following is an excerpt from my memoir, “Building A Life You Love After Losing the Love of Your Life,” published in 2016, six years after losing my husband, Phil to a brain tumor.) Book cover

I have always been philosophical, looking for meaning and purpose in life and its events. I study life. Phil lived life. He didn’t try to analyze it.  That was one of the attributes I loved most about him.  Maybe that’s why I’m the one left behind– to analyze, to reflect upon the deeper learning.

About a month before Phil died he was in neuro-ICU after severe seizures. I was sleepless one night, praying that God wouldn’t take him from me so soon. Looking for guidance and comfort I reached for my Bible. It fell open to Ecclesiastes Chapter 3. The passage starts, “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven . . .” I’ve read and heard this many times before, as I’m sure you have. Back in 1965 The Byrds used the words in the lyrics of a song called “Turn! Turn! Turn!” It’s remained popular for decades.

This time I read beyond the familiar verses. The author, who according to Biblical scholars was reflecting on the meaning of life, goes on to explain that whatever man’s works may be, there is no way that we can understand God’s plan from beginning to end. He says, “I know there is no good in them but for a man to rejoice and do good in his life. And that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God.” As I read and re-read this Bible passage I realized that although Phil never professed or defined a life philosophy, I think this verse sums it up—“rejoice and do good.”

            That’s the way he lived. He lived life rejoicing. Whether people knew him well or only met him briefly they often commented on his bright eyes, big smile, and happy nature. He also “did good” in both small and big ways. He did well in his work, in his accomplishments and in his adventures. He enjoyed “the good of all his labor.” Phil was generous and kind, often helping others with no expectation for return. “Rejoice and do good.” That’s the way Phil lived.

After Phil’s diagnosis I found where he had written in his journal a quote from the Farmer’s Almanac: “A long life may not be good enough but a good life is always long enough.” Beneath it Phil wrote, “I’ve had a good life!”

Rejoice and do good is what my amazing husband taught me. I modernized the wording into “Enjoy life and do good” and adopted that as the new tagline for my business.  Beyond a tag line, it is my mantra for how I aim to live each day. The writer Joseph Addison said, “Three grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.” My purpose is to use my speaking and writing to help others to enjoy life and do good. My new normal is to work with purpose, live with passion and make a difference.  So although I lost the love of my life, I have built a life that I love.

From Building A Life You Love After Losing the Love of Your Life; Copyright 2016, Myra McEllhaney. Available on Amazon.com.

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