What Makes a Good Life?

I’ve been thinking a lot about this question lately, and so many things have come to mind about what makes a good life. Of course, I wanna be financially secure, be able to know I have a home to come back to every night, have family and friends that I can turn to, and be healthy enough to enjoy all these blessings.

As I write this post, I honestly feel like I already have all those things in my life right now. On the one hand, I wanna be selfless and just be grateful to be so blessed. But on the other, there’s a part of me that wants to be selfish and reach for something more, to have the ability to not only hold on to the blessings I already have but attract even more into my life.

Like a squirrel stocking up for winter, I want to have replacements (I guess is the word), just in case I fall on hard times financially, or lose a couple of loved ones to death or betrayal or whatever it is that causes relationships to fall apart.

So, after a whole week of ruminating on this question, two things have emerged in the forefront of my mind as possible answers to what makes a good life. The first is self-discipline; the second is time.

I believe these two go hand in hand, and, at least in my case, whenever one has complemented the other in my life, those periods have always been productive and deeply satisfying. I think the best way to explain what I mean is with an example from my own life.

For a couple of years, from late 2016 to early 2019, I was hopelessly dependent on marijuana. My marijuana use began innocently enough, actually helping me to overcome some self-destructive tendencies I’d developed after leaving the army.

Not surprisingly, people around me began noticing positive changes in my behavior. And for the first time in a while, I felt like I had some control over my life. It felt like I had shed my old skin and emerged a different person with a brand-new, optimistic outlook on life.

But as marijuana took on a more central role in my identity, my tolerance to its positive effects began increasing. Gradually, it became harder to focus on my responsibilities as the marijuana haze enveloped every waking moment of my life. It got to the point where I was paying top dollar for buds in the high 30% THC range and smoking through my entire stash in a matter of days.

I knew I was addicted (whether to THC or dopamine, I don’t know) when my entire day would be shit unless I was high. Basically, I had to be high to be around people—even my own loved ones—or I would be irritable and unsociable the whole time.

That was the endless game I became stuck in, always chasing the next high, most of my time spent either getting high with friends and wasting the day away, or half-assedly taking classes that I didn’t even care about.

I was like a banana leaf swaying in the wind, waiting for things to happen to me and not going anywhere. I stood still as life passed me by.

Today I look back on that not-too-distant past as a stepping stone to where I’m at now. But it’s hard not to wonder how much farther along I would be if I’d had enough self-discipline to regulate my marijuana use.

Regret is a very strong word that I hate using, but if there’s one thing I would’ve done differently in those days, I would’ve started journaling. It would be fascinating to know all of the thoughts going through my head while I was caught in the throes of marijuana dependency.

I did write a few poems that give a glimpse into my mindset. Most of them were quite dark and still conjure up a part of my shadow self whenever I reread them.

NEW BABYLON

Exiled in Babylon
wading through bile within the beast
Where the daily grind takes a toll
on the body and the Mind

Where strangers walk the grounds
Where danger’s all around
Competition’s the name of the game
for me to win, someone’s got to lose

Where love is hard to come by
Where true friends are hard to find
Where i live, always wary, always weary
In a Babylon State of Mind.

I guess my point is that we all need self-discipline to even begin to discover what our true passion is. There are so many options in today’s world that it’s hard to choose just one discipline for our self (pun intended lol).

Once that’s established, we need to set a waypoint, a goal we wanna reach, and that same self-discipline is needed to keep us from deviating from the path. We can’t fool ourselves into thinking that this path is gonna be an easy one. To make it through the hard times, it’s gonna take a lot more of that self-discipline (sorry, that’s the last time I’ll use that word in this post).

And finally, we only have a limited amount of time on this Earth to reach our goals. It doesn’t matter how much passion we have, or how great our plan is, when death comes-a-knocking, all our goals might as well be ice cubes under a hot summer sun. 

Featured Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay 

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