Last night I read A Short Guide to a Happy Life. It’s a very tiny, 50 page book, with pictures on every other page, so in five minutes you can read the entire book from cover to cover. The book is written by a woman who lost her mother to ovarian cancer when she was just a teenager.
The author focuses the book on imminent mortality, believing that the recognition of your own life’s end will ultimately open your eyes to the grandeur of small moments in each and and every day. She says, “think of life as a terminal illness, because, if you do, you will live it with joy and passion, as it ought to be lived… I learned that this is not a dress rehearsal, and that today is the only guarantee you get.”
In the past few years my life has been overrun by poor health and every time I turn I seem to hear another story of illness. But in my case I don’t always view my health as a curse, sometimes, I realize it is a great gift. Just as the author says, it has taught me to treasure both time and people.
In the last paragraph of the book the author talks about a homeless man she met on the boardwalk at Coney Island. In the middle of winter, she asked this man why he stayed out on the boardwalk in the cold rather than going to a shelter.
He answered, “Look at the view young lady. Look at the view.” She writes, “And every day, in some little way, I try to do what he said. I try to look at the view. That’s all. Words of wisdom from a man with not a dime in his pocket, no place to go, nowhere to be. Look at the view. When I do what he said, I am never disappointed.”