letters to the editor
The Good Life Revisited
We offered a checklist of life’s underrated pleasures in our May/June 2001 issue (p.70), proposing that they contribute to human happiness just as much as wealth or fame or power. Many readers shared their own visions of the good life, some of which we feature below.
The sound of no cars greets me, coupled with a slanted beam of sunlight through the window of my cabin. Soon, my 6-month-old love-dog comes in, licks my face, and curls beside me. A stretch, a sigh, and a slice of last night’s pie. This is the beginning of a day in the good life. Rocky mountain juniper, lupine, and sage greet the senses. I climb on sandstone. I read a Gary Snyder poem, and an Alice Walker essay. I contemplate nostalgia, and run into an old friend who’s passing through.
Lori Mehler, Durango, CO
My friends and I often have "family dinner" nights. We all get together at one person’s house, cook together, eat together, and have wonderful conversations. These are the nights when we share childhood memories or other funny stories from our pasts. We also discuss current affairs, movies, music or any other topic that the flow of conversation introduces. I spent some time in Italy when I was in college and the family dinner nights I now enjoy reinforce the greatest lesson that I learned from Italian culture: Good food, good wine, and good friends are the greatest riches in the world.
Olivia DeJongh, Atlanta, GA
Big trees to sit under, dream under, climb, hug, and sketch; a wealth of free entertainment: street musicians, festivals, book signings, poetry readings, full moon gazing, art galleries, a good dollar store.
Anu Chathampally, Lake Worth, FL
Talking to people I don’t really know. Taking an hour each day to walk my dog. Noticing the green leaves on trees and flowers in the gardens, taking time to just look at them.
Ania Sroka, Toronto, Ontario
Sharing your laughter with a child . . . nothing tops that.
Ann Betthauser, Madison, WI
A personal sense of wellbeing, a sense that you’ve individually made a contribution, that you know who you are and how you are fulfilling your potential in society.
Jeff Linzer, Minneapolis, MN
Dusk of the first evening after a new moon, when you can see the sliver and the shadow, going into town to the post office and taking the time to chat with friends and acquaintances, being a lesbian in a small town . . . and being treated kindly.
Jantina Eshleman, Mountainair, NM
Living in the same house for 28 years. Living in a state that can still elect two very liberal senators.
Sybil Kelly, Bloomington, MN
Hearing coyotes howl in the evening, the most amazing Kansas sunsets, lack of a fence for my dog, knowing that if a car door slams, someone is there to visit me.
Jeannie Skalsky, College Station, TX
Working pay phones, four distinctly different seasons, sidewalks, a window in the kitchen (preferably over the sink), access to free (or nominal cost) health screenings (cholesterol levels, blood pressure, HIV, mammogram, etc. . . .), bike and roller blade paths, access to free birth control for all who want it.
Val Huston, Crown Point, IN
Any day when I plop my head down on my pillow, thinking about what I did or attempted to do that day, and smile.
Susan M. Bleiberg, Wilmington, DE