What’s Most Important in Life?

Living in Canada? Adventure? beauty? truth? Risk-Taking? Non-stop play? Wealth? Health? Well, as one ages, one certainly sees how the latter is basic and underlies even the most bored, boring, unproductive, wasted life.

But, as John Huston, remarked, it’s of course Interests. Nothing happens to one, inside or externally sans interests. These are the things that excite one, motivate one, pleasure one, and keep one getting up each day–following up on one’s interests. You can see this in children when they play, in teens when they enjoy their friends, in adult life when people pursue their dreams and careers, and in retirement when people pursue what they want in their more limited time left to them.

Interests are usually specific: to the moment, the hour, the day, the week, the month. But they reflect who we most and essentially are as individuals. We each of us have larger interests. In my case–interests in Nature, beauty, language, literature, books, writing, creative process, all music, theatre, plays, film, painting, sculpture, architecture, the arts, history and stories, civilization, life processes, etc.

This morning I continue my latest interest–an exploration of one of the great directors of all time–John Huston. One of his movies (The Misfits) has taken me to a biography, a documentary which I haven’t seen for a while, and to the purchase of a book of interviews with the remarkable, maverick-Renaissance man.

This specific interest reflects a lifelong interest in truly interesting people who work in the arts, and film, the latter a large, general interest of mine. I am always interested in creative process, long having been a writer, poet, ‘people facilitator’ and teacher myself. There is always much in these ‘investigations’ that reveal much about people, life, and values, -beliefs, and sensibilities–all things that add to my own ‘largeness’ as a creative, hopefully interesting person.

And so I would add to interests, the cliché of lifelong learning–the desire for specific information of interest to me, which fits my needs, wants, and desires as well as curiosity. No, I never stop learning.

And the only times I have seen these two qualities cease in people closest to me have been when my parents were in decline, dying from cancer–their pain, suffering, and isolation so great, they were no longer interested, curious to learn anymore. They also, memorably, could no longer laugh at the ironies and absurdities of life and even themselves anymore.

And so I would modify the list of what I would consider to be most important in life to five basic, major things: attitude (since it governs our overall basic approach to life), interests, curiosity, learning, and a sense of humor.

Those five things also go a long way in/toward explaining, understanding, and appreciating yours truly and many others.

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